Peace on Earth — The 200th Anniversary of “Silent Night”

On Christmas Eve 1818, at Saint Nicholas parish church in Orbendorf (a village in the Austrian Empire), the carol “Silent Night” was first performed. The parish priest, Joseph Mohr, had composed the words the year before. River flooding had damaged the church organ, so Mohr asked Franz Xaver Gruber—an organist in a nearby village—to compose an accompaniment for guitar. And so, 200 years ago tonight, the Christmas Carol “Silent Night” was born.* Continue reading “Peace on Earth — The 200th Anniversary of “Silent Night””

What is the Best Recording of Handel’s Messiah?

I love Handel’s Messiah. In my opinion, it is one of the best works of biblical theology across all genres of art and literature. I make it an annual tradition to listen to it straight through. I wanted a great version. So, being no music critic, I went searching for the answer to the question: What is the best recording of Handel’s Messiah?

Here’s what I found: Continue reading “What is the Best Recording of Handel’s Messiah?”

Christmas is for Weeping Mothers

Yesterday, I attended the funeral for our friends’ 16-year-old son. I noticed his mother in the front row, dabbing away her tears. I thought about the tears she would certainly shed on Christmas Eve this year (and in years to come). Then I remembered—Christmas is for weeping mothers. Continue reading “Christmas is for Weeping Mothers”

The O Antiphons — An Ancient Advent Devotion

I love Advent songs and Christmas carols. I love the tradition, the nostalgia, the familiarity. Most of all, I love the way a good carol points us to who Jesus Christ came to be and who he is for us today. (I wrote this original Christmas carol for that purpose.)

One of my favorites is “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” This carol has its origins in a set of seven Latin antiphons known as “The O Antiphons” or “The Great Antiphons.” The verses may have originated as early as the 6th century. They were used in the Benedictine Abbey, being recited by leaders in descending order before presenting gifts to members of the community. The O Antiphons were shaped into Latin verse in the 12th century. Continue reading “The O Antiphons — An Ancient Advent Devotion”