Silent Night, Holy Night

During advent this year, I am writing a series of posts about some of my favorite Christmas Hymns. If you want more context, you can read my introductory post, Why I Love Christmas Hymns first. Last week, I wrote about the song "O Come, All Ye Faithful." This week, we will look at Silent Night, Holy Night.

A childhood favorite

Silent night was my favorite Christmas song as a child. I can still remember my family gathering in my grandmother's living room to sing Christmas carols. It was dark outside and the Christmas lights were on as we would all huddle around the piano. My aunt would play various songs and we would sing. Celebrating the birth of our savior.

I am not entirely sure why it was my favorite, but I do remember that it was. As I think back, I remember that as we would sing Silent Night, a feeling of profound reverence and immense awe would overcome my small mind. The soft and somewhat solemn melody drew me in, and it was as though the world around me faded away. 

Christmas is a time where many emotions and responses are appropriate. We can have rejoicing at the thought of our savior coming to earth. We can have laughter and fun as we gather with our families and loved ones. There is also a place for quiet. There is a place for awe. There is a place for humble adoration when we remember that inside the baby boy Jesus, there resided the all-powerful God of the universe. Who, for a short time, "emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of man (Phil 2:7)."

Listen to Silent Night with fresh ears this Advent, and allow it to draw you into the reverent worship of Jesus.


Silent night, Holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin, mother and child
Holy infant, tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, Holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord at thy birth
Jesus, Lord at thy birth.

Silent night, Holy night
Shepherds quake, at the sight
Glories stream from heaven above
Heavenly, hosts sing Hallelujah.
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born

Holy infant, so tender and mild

Jesus is an anomaly and contains so many paradoxes. He is holy, and pure holiness is not tender or meek. It is not mild and subdued. It is fierce and overwhelming. Isaiah 6 reveals as much, when the seraphim cry "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!" And the foundations shook as God spoke. Holiness is not tender and mild, it is the exact opposite.

Jesus, the holy infant, lived in the weakest of forms, a human baby. We can marvel, because it is truly remarkable. There are other contrasting features within the song as well. It says, "Round yon virgin, mother and child." A virgin, who is also a mother!?! Virgins cannot give birth to children. It is a biological impossibility, and yet it is true of Mary and Jesus. It is possible because God brought about a miracle in the birth of Jesus.

Not to mention the paradox of the incarnation itself. Jesus, the God-man was fully human and fully divine.

Pure holiness is not tender or meek. It is not mild and subdued. It is fierce and overwhelming.

Son of God, love's pure light

The imagery of light is prevalent throughout the Scriptures and has a remarkable way of illuminating who God is and what he is doing in the world. In this song, Jesus is described as "love's pure light" and it describes, "radiant beams" coming "from thy holy face" and "with the dawn of redeeming grace." I love the imagery of light and this song draws it out.

Love's pure light has come to push aside the darkness that lay upon the land. When light comes, no matter how small, it casts out the darkness. Darkness cannot overcome the light. Jesus came to bring light, and at Christmas, we can celebrate its rising. Like the dawn of a new day, Jesus came to bring fresh light on an otherwise dark landscape.

Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

An important feature of Christmas is to remember that Jesus was not just a baby boy, but God in the flesh. Jesus was Lord, even at his birth. When he came, Christ the Savior was born. Because we hear it so often, it can be easy to gloss over the incredible truth that God came to earth in the form of a man, and that we celebrate his coming at Christmas. Don't miss it this year.

Silent Night

Here is a video of Sara Groves singing Silent Night. Her's is one of my favorites!