Saturday, December 24, 2016

SIlent Night: The Song and Its Story by Margaret Hodges, Illustrated by Tim Ludwig

Perhaps he might write a little song, something as simple as the Bible story, something that every child could understand.

It all started with a broken organ at the church in Oberndorf, Austria on Christmas Eve.  The Christmas mass just wouldn't be the same without music.  Father Joseph Mohr knew his congregation needed a song so he wrote a simple poem then rushed it over to Franz Gruber who created a lullaby on his guitar.  Today this is one of the most loved and most spiritual of all the Christmas carols.

One of the greatest discoveries I made as a librarian was nonfiction picture books.  There are many I like, but this one stands out because of excellent pacing and illustrations that perfectly match the subject.  This book tells the story of the origins of Stille Nacht, it's travels as a folk song across Austria and Germany, the rediscovery of the song's true origin, and it's popularity across the world.

It recounts the famous Christmas Eve truce during the First World War.  Then highlights other lesser known moments.   The peaceful tune reminded a Russian soldier that his enemy prisoners were humans, and coaxed a soldier during the Korean War to cease fire.  This book taught me something remarkable about the my most cherished Christmas song.  The things that draw us closer to the divine, also remind us of the humanity in others. 

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