How about a little palette cleanser after yesterday's donnybrook? Our readers have weighed in heavily on their grade school experiences. Let's just say, "That which does not kill you, makes you stronger."
Or not. I think that only works if you are a relatively strong person in the first place. I remember hearing an African American professor bemoan the bemoaning of the welfare state and the state of America's poor. What he said has always stayed with me. I can't quote him, but his point was that our "anyone can grow up to be president in the US if they just work hard enough" mantra is a fallacy that asks every single person to be extraordinary. Oh, sure, we hear about people who were able to rise from horrible backgrounds and extreme poverty. But no one seems to take into account that these people were exceptional, extraordinary people.
Of course, as Catholics, we constantly ask ourselves to be extraordinary, to strive for sainthood. Heroic virtue is our goal. And, of course, the last people to claim any heroism or extraordinary virtue are the saints themselves because to do so would lack the necessary humility.
But I digress...a palatte cleanser.
I've been doing my research about "Silent Night". One of the things I love best about that song is that the person who wrote the music (who is not the same person who wrote the lyrics) wrote it as a lullaby. That has always tickled me.
But it turns out that it was not written as a lullaby and in fact was a peppy tune, a lilting dance type number. I can't imagine it, can you? It was originally written in 6/8 time, if that's any help. It doesn't help me any, even though I know what that is, this 6/8 time, and how that rhythm works.
I don't know who had the wherewith all to make the slight changes that turned the song into a lullaby, but my Santa hat is off to them!
The beautiful lyrics were written in 1816 by Father Jospeh Mohr, an Austrian priest. He had written this poem and apparently let it sit in a drawer or something for two years. Then one foggy Christmas Eve in 1818, he needed a song for the Christmas Mass and took the poem to his friend, the schoolmaster Franz Xaver Gruber (that's his picture on the right). Father Mohr asked Guber to write the a tune and a guitar arrangement. Isn't that a kick in the head? What was that? A song for the original guitar Mass? It seems so, since the original music was happy, clappy stuff. To soften the blow of that thought, people have suggested that he did it because the organ had broken down, but there is no proof that this was the case.
Christmas is happy to have had Father Mohr, especially considering that he had to actually get permission from the Pope himself to become a priest. Mohr was the illegitimate son of a woman who had taken up with a soldier, a soldier who promptly abandoned her and their upcoming child.
In the midst of WWI, the world stopped warring on Christmas Eve during the Christmas Truce of 1914. Soldiers on both sides of the front sang "Silent Night". It was the one song for which they all knew the lyrics.
Then they went back to killing each other. They should have listened to what they were singing a little more closely.