The First Christmas Eve

IN 1818, a roving band of actors was performing in towns throughout the Austrian Alps. Their performance on a starry December night in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria, impacted local pastor Joseph Mohr as the words of the Christ story remained in his heart. On his walk home, Mohr traveled up a longer path home, which took him up a hill overlooking the village.

From that vista, Mohr gazed at the peaceful, snow-covered village. Moved by the muffled silence of the wintry night, Mohr remembered a poem he had written a couple of years before. That poem was about the night when angels announced the birth of the Messiah to shepherds on a hillside. Mohr decided those words might make a good carol for his congregation at their Christmas Eve service. The one problem was that he didn't have any music. The next day, Christmas Eve, Mohr went to see the church organist, Franz Gruber. In only a few hours, Gruber composed a melody to be sung with a guitar. The beloved Christmas carol "Silent Night" was born.

That night, the little Oberndorf congregation heard Gruber and Mohr sing the newly created carol to the accompaniment of Gruber's guitar. The rest is history. Believers and nonbelievers alike have sung the now iconic song on Christmas Eve in languages and settings all around the world.

On this eve of Christmas, I want to suggest that you gather your family together in your home or attend a candlelight service at church and reflect on the silent holiness of this night. And consider these words, written so very long ago:

While they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

LUKE 2:6–7

Will you make room in your heart for the Christ child this Christmas?

Devotional content taken from Good Morning, Lord . . . Can We Talk? by Charles R. Swindoll. Copyright © 2018. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved. The full devotional can be purchased at

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