Sing the song of Christmas

December 24, 2011

Jim Hopkins begins his column Silent Night voice of our history:

The spirituality of Christmas has been heedlessly stripped away by the Caesars of our age … It was playing on the wireless last week, Justin Bieber’s version of Silent Night, and no matter how soppy the singer, the song still cuts, every time, like love, to the quick. There are always tears in the tune and a lifetime in its lines.

Silent Night is the song of Christmas. There’s so much inside it. The melody floats and soars and lives in the Gothic nave of our imagination, stirring something in us we’d forgotten was there. . .

And concludes it:

. . . But that will happen only if we acknowledge the character and history of Christmas and allow some part of the holy day into the holiday. And that’s all but gone now. The spirituality of Christmas has been heedlessly stripped away by the Caesars of our age, who would have no rendering except to themselves. Officially, like or not, this is still a Christian country, yet our politicians – and the media they control on our behalf – cannot summon the will to make any reference to 2000 years of tradition and belief. We have come to a contrary pass when those who assert the sanctity of taonga in one breath will so casually forsake it in the next.

Still, Silent Night survives. To goad, comfort, challenge and console. As memory and star, it is the song of Christmas. Sing it.

The bits in between are worth reading too.


Silent Night

December 25, 2009

Silent Night was first performed on Christmas Day, 1818.


December 25 in history

December 25, 2009

On December 25:

800 Coronation of Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor, in Rome.

1000 Hungary was established as a Christian kingdom by Stephen I of Hungary.

1066  William the Conqueror was crowned as king of England, at Westminster Abbey.

1000 Baldwin of Boulogne is crowned as the first King of Jerusalem in the Church of the Nativity.

1130  Count Roger II of Sicily was crowned as the first King of Sicily.

 Detail of the mosaic with Roger II receiving the crown by Christ, Martorana, Palermo.

1223 St. Francis of Assisi assembles the first Nativity scene.

Painting by Jusepe de Ribera

1643  Christmas Island was founded and named by Captain William Mynors of the East India Ship Company vessel, the Royal Mary.

1814 At Oihi Beach in the Bay of Islands, Samuel Marsden preached in English to a largely Maori gathering, launching the Christian missionary phase of New Zealand history. Marsden’s service was translated by the Nga Puhi leader Ruatara.

NZ's first Christian service?

1818 The first performance of “Silent Night” took place in the church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria.

 Autograph of the carol by  Franz Xaver Gruber.

1821  Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, was born.

   

 1865 Evangeline Booth, the 4th General of The Salvation Army, was born.

 

1870 Helena Rubinstein, Polish-born American cosmetics industrialist, was born.

1887 Conrad Hilton, American hotelier, was born.

1889 Lila Bell Wallace, American magazine publisher (Reader’s Digest), was born.

1890  Robert Ripley, collector of odd facts, was born.

 Ripley’s Odditorium in Hollywood

1899 Humphrey Bogart, American actor, was born.

1908 Quentin Crisp, English author, was born.

1913  Tony Martin, American singer and actor, was born.

1914 James Muir Cameron Fletcher, New Zealand industrialist, was born.

1918 Anwar Sadat, President of Egypt, Nobel laureate, was born.

1918 Ahmed Ben Bella, politician, first President of Algeria, was born.

 Ben Bella (right) after his arrest by the French army

1932  A magnitude 7.6 earthquake in Gansu, China kills ~70,000 people.

1941 Battle of Hong Kong ended, beginning the Japanese Occupation of Hong Kong.

1944 Kenny Everett, British entertainer, was born.

Kenny Everett.jpg

1947 The Constitution of the Republic of China went into effect.

1949  Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan was born.

1949 Sissy Spacek, American actress, was born.

1950 The Stone of Scone, traditional coronation stone of British monarchs, was taken from Westminster Abbey by Scottish nationalist students.

 

1950 Karl Rove, former American presidential advisor, was born.

1954 Annie Lennox, Scottish singer, was born.

1963 Turkish Cypriot Bayrak Radio began transmitting in Cyprus after Turkish Cypriots were forcibly excluded from Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation.

1968 Apollo 8 performed the  first successful Trans Earth Injection (TEI) maneouver, sending the crew and spacecraft on a trajectory back to Earth from Lunar orbit.

1989  Nicolae Ceauşescu, former communist dictator of Romania and his wife Elena are condemned to death and executed under a wide range of charges.

 

1990 The first successful trial run of the system which would become the World Wide Web.
 The Web’s historic logo designed by Robert Cailliau
 
1991  Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as president of the Soviet Union (the union itself is dissolved the next day).
 
1991 Ukraine‘s referendum was finalized and Ukraine officially left the Soviet Union.
 
  • 2003 – The ill-fated Beagle 2 probe, released from the Mars Express Spacecraft on December 19, disappeared shortly before its scheduled landing.
  • Beagle 2 replica.jpg
       

    Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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