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Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience (1 Peter 3:15b-16a ESV)

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12/16/2004

This Week in Church History 

December 11, 1792.

One month from now, Louis XVI would be executed for crimes against the French people. But on this day, something more important happened.

Joseph Mohr was born in Salzburg Germany. He was illegitimate -- the son of a German soldier (Franz Joseph Mohr) and Ann Schoiber, whose family he was living with at the time. When informed of her pregnancy, Mohr did what too many soldiers have done in similar circumstances -- he ran, even deserting the army. Ann was left holding the bag, and was forced to bear the shame and fine alone.

Young Joseph loved to sing, and was allowed to join a Benedictine choir, and studied music with the choirmaster's other students. He excelled, learning several instruments by the age of twelve. He was ordained a priest in 1815.

Three years later, faced with a broken organ and no Christmas music, Mohr wrote the words to one of the most beloved Christmas carols of all time, "Silent Night, Holy Night."

Mohr never became wealthy because of the song; in fact, he died penniless, having devoted his money to a school for poor children. But his example -- a child who had no hope for any future, whose stigma could have prevented him from receiving an education, but was given a chance by people who loved him -- is an inspiration for us all.


Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Hirten erst kundgemacht
Durch der Engel Halleluja,
Tönt es laut von fern und nah:
Christ, der Retter ist da!
Christ, der Retter ist da!

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht
Lieb' aus deinem göttlichen Mund,
Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund'.
Christ, in deiner Geburt!
Christ, in deiner Geburt!
(If you have problems with some of the characters, change your Encoding to Unicode UT-8)
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