No "Do Day" until after the first of the new year.
"Gather" Bible Study is held on the third Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. in the church library. Please feel free to join us!
DECEMBER 2023 Submitted by June Torrison
We don’t usually think of giving a mouse credit for anything good, but in a way it was because of a mouse that we have one of our favorite Christmas carols.
It was December, 1818 in Oberndorf, Austria. Joseph Mohr was the parish priest in the village church and Franz Gruber was a teacher, church organist and sexton. During the month a mouse had chewed a hole in the leather of the organ bellows. I’m guessing they did not have a piano in the church. The organ builder was not able to make the trip to repair the instrument before Christmas. So Herr Gruber wrote the words for a new song and Father Mohr wrote the melody that could be played with a guitar. Yes, it became SILENT NIGHT. Through the years as various groups “borrowed it” to sing throughout Europe, the melody was altered a little, and it was translated into many languages.
Part of our family tradition is to sing a verse in German in honor of my dad. His mother was born in Germany, and so were his grandparents.
One of the sources of my information about this song is from a book written by Paul Rosel, a St. Ansgar native. The copyright is 1969 with Augsburg Publishing. I remember buying school supplies at his father’s store (Paul Rosel, Sr.). The author was a teacher at Concordia Teachers College in Seward, Nebraska. There are still Rosel families in the St. Ansgar area, many of them involved in music.
This is a quote from More Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas by Ace Collins.
“If England’s Queen Victoria had not married Prince Albert of Germany in 1840, the Christmas Tree might still be a tradition limited to only Eastern and central Europe. But because Albert brought the holiday traditions of his native country with him when he moved to Buckingham palace, the fir tree grew into a worldwide symbol of the holiday season. “
Now we have O TANNENBAUM (O Christmas Tree). I can remember my dad singing that in German, too.
Both of my parents recalled having actual candles on the church Christmas trees. Obviously they were not lit for very long and there was an usher stationed nearby with a wet towel “just in case”.
When I was a child our Sunday School classes exchanged gifts after the Christmas program. The gifts were placed under the giant tree in front of the altar and the ushers called out our names and brought them to us. Then we received the little box of hard candy with the string and were admonished to wait until we got home to open it. I don’t remember any food involved because we did not have a church fellowship hall there – the parish center was several blocks away. Some of the Sunday school classes were held in the pews and one in a room back of the altar where we also had confirmation classes on Saturdays. The basement was only big enough for the class for little ones. It was a very old stone church built in the early 1860s.
Phillips Brooks was an Episcopal priest in Philadelphia. In 1865 he had visited the village of Bethlehem and was so inspired by it that in 1868 he wrote a poem for the Christmas Sunday school service. He asked organist Lewis Redner to set it to music. It has become one of our favorites, O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHELEHEM.