We have a radio at work that we turn on sometimes. Mostly it is background noise and there are times I hardly notice it playing. It has been present over the years and like myself, over time it has shown its age. It lacks an antenna. Its dual tape deck has long been defunct, and the number of stations that can come in clearly have been reduced dramatically. When I was younger and friskier, firmer and less arthralgic it played the latest hits of the time, top forties and stuff you can dance to, but it’s music selection has never been at my discretion.
I am not the boss of the work radio, or the work thermostat for that matter. I have rarely if ever touched either.
At Christmas the dial is always tuned into the Christmas radio station channel – the radio, not the thermostat, although those forever freezing coworkers may disagree with a Christmas themed thermostat setting.
The station is one that plays Christmas tunes 24/7 in the time leading up to Christmas. Sometimes the songs have a tendency to repeat.
One year a coworker and I played a game revolving around the aforementioned repetitious songs. Every time a particular song made it into the rotation we would agree to nap. It was a joke, obviously. We were not napping on the job. However, to this day when I hear that one song I always find myself asking whomever is near if they’re up for a nap.
Recently the radio music has begun to give way to static more than melody. On the busy work days it is less obvious that the ol’ faithful radio looks like an awkward dinosaur sitting on the desktop. I have said before I am not a music person, music does not always speak to me, not like it does some people, but as I have aged I have noticed that perhaps I pay attention just a bit more, the words more valuable than they once were. They mean something to me now. Where they once just occupied space in my mind, now the words inhabit my thoughts. As “Silent Night” was sung from the speakers, between static crackles the words of “Christ the Savior is born” and “Jesus, Lord at thy birth” swirled in my mind, and I began to wander and managed to meander down lanes of history and what I know.
I like a good backstory and “Silent Night” has one. Silent Night, is the most popular Christmas song in the world. In 1816 Joseph Mohr penned the words in a poem as he nursed a case of tuberculosis and cared for his parishioners in snow laden land. It was a time known as the dark years that were notoriously made cold because of a volcanic eruption.
Two years later His friend Hans Grueber developed the iconic tune for the guitar, because rumor has it the church rats had eaten through the pipe organ rendering it useless to play that Christmas Eve Service when it made its debut. I have often wondered if those trials and difficult circumstances had not played out as they had, would we even know the beauty of “Silent Night.”
In those days, famine and disease were prevalent, and hopelessness pervaded the mind and assaulted the senses. The two men were nearly lost to history as “Silent Night” made its way to world renowned recognition. Yet because of their perseverance in difficult times “Silent Night” became what it is today, a song of universal recognition, connecting hearts together just as it did the Christmas Day Armistice of World War I ushering in peace in the midst of literal war.
When I hear “Silent Night,” I am reminded of those two patient-in-affliction fellows and what the result of that suffering and hardship became, and I am inspired to press on in times of trouble. And then I reflect on My King, born Lord at birth, born with a destiny to die for all mankind. Born babe, born humble, born Love, born Hope.