One of my favorite Christmas carols is Silent Night. The simplicity of the tune and the meaning behind the words has made it a favorite of mine since childhood. In high school, I learned how to sing Silent Night in French and thought how beautiful it would be to hear a choir sing it in both languages at the same time.
Silent Night and The Profoundness of Peace: Montessori CurriculumA few years ago, there was an opportunity for one of my musical (and peaceful) dreams to come true. One of the Montessori schools at which I taught organized a big evening Christmas concert, and the very last song of the performance was to be Silent Night. The entire school was on stage. One of the middle school children told the story of how the tender carol had come to be written:
On December 24th, 1818, Joseph Mohr, the curate of a small parish in Oberndorf, Austria gave a poem that he had written to a friend of his, Franz Gruber, who was also the organist and choir director of that church. He asked Gruber if he would write music for his song and that he might write it for two solo voices with guitar accompaniment because, the organ being broken, they wanted music to be a part of the Christmas Eve services. Mr. Gruber wrote the music to what has become one of the most beloved of all Christmas Carols, Stille Nacht, in English, Silent Night.
(John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together. 1979)
Afterward, the middle school group sang the first verse in German. Then, the rest of the school sang the three verses together in English.
Stille Nacht! Heil'ge Nacht!
Alles schläft; einsam wacht Nur das traute hoch heilige Paar.
Holder Knab' im lockigen Haar, Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!
Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright. Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.
Holy infant so tender and mild, Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.
Silent night, Holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight. Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heav'nly hosts sing Hallelujah, Christ the Saviour is born, Christ the Saviour is born.
Silent night, Holy night!
Son of God, love's pure light. Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace, Jesus Lord at Thy birth, Jesus Lord at Thy birth.
When the children were done, a middle school child invited all of the audience to sing the first verse again in the language of their choice. I thought my heart would burst with joy as I sang the words to my favorite song in French. Listening to those around me, it was as if a choir of angels from around the world was singing about the peace and love of Christmas time. Though there were few dry eyes as we finished the song, there was on overwhelming sense of peace surrounding us. The auditorium seemed hushed and awed by what we had just experienced. As we walked to our cars, freshly covered with snow, we wished everyone a joyful and peaceful Christmas.
Douce nuit, Sainte nuit! Tout s’endort a minuit. Et dans le ciel san voile, Apparut une etoile, Pour guider les bergers, Jusqu’a l’enfant qui est ne.
May you experience joy, love, and peace this holiday season.
Peace Education is part of the Montessori curriculum; see NAMC's Lower Elementary Five Great Lessons / Cosmic Education & Peace manual.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Monday, December 22, 2008.