Silent Night

We have reached the climax of Advent and it is now the night before Christmas. Due to the pandemic, our Christmas celebrations are a bit modified this year. My thoughts are with you, and I hope you are safe, warm, and celebrating in a way that will create a Lasting Impression and good memories.

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what they had been told about this child, and all who heard were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

Luke 2:15-18
O’ Silent Night’ memorial chapel – Oberndorf, Austria (Photo by Johannes Simon Getty Images)

On Christmas Eve 1818, it was discovered that the St Nicholas church organ near Salzburg was not working; mice had munched through the bellows. Faced with having no music for Midnight Mass, the solution was simple: with a poem and a guitar, two men composed and sang “Stille Nacht” (“Silent Night”) for the first time. The original poem was authored by Joseph Mohr, a priest, while Franz Gruber, an organist, added the melody with his guitar. “Silent Night” was a morale booster, a poem about peace, faith, love and hope. Only a few years later, singing families from the Zillertal valley carried the song from Austria into Europe and the rest of the world. Today, the song is performed in over 300 languages and dialects.

Clement Clarke Moore wrote his immortal poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas, also known as The Night Before Christmas, for his family on Christmas Eve 1822 and it was published in 1844.  Almost 200 years later, it is the most-read, most-memorized, and most-collected book in all of Christmas literature. With many to choose from, I love the version illustrated by Jan Brett. Brett sets her distinctive, lavish presentation of this poem in a Victorian house in a New England village with an Old World Santa and a couple of stowaway elves who steal the show. Double-page spreads offer much to explore, while the artist’s signature “in the border” additions extend the story line. Sometimes the paintings illustrate the words to the poem; other times they highlight the behind-the-scenes activities. Brett’s borders are lavishly decorated with antique toys, ornaments, and sweet treats, all surrounded with twisting golden ribbons. Whichever version is your favorite, The Night Before Christmas is a fun read that creates a Lasting Impression for all ages.

Vincent van Gogh “Starry Night Over the Rhône” 1888 source: Wikimedia

Starry Night Over the Rhône captures a rare moment of calm in the chaotic final years of Vincent Van Gogh’s life. Though full of vibrant energy, the scene itself is peaceful; the only people present in the composition are “two colorful figurines of lovers in the foreground,” and, despite its sparkling stars, the sky elicits a sense of tranquility. Ultimately, this atmosphere is what sets Starry Night Over the Rhône apart from its more famous counterpart: The Starry Night. A gem of the Musée d’Orsay‘s permanent collection, this painting continues to captivate viewers with its mesmerizing brushwork, radiant color palette, and serene subject matter. I hope you have had an opportunity to enjoy either holiday or natural lights wherever your home may be. I also hope a there is calm, peace and joy with your holiday celebrations.

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