OK, I have a confession. Actually, I think I’ve made this confession before but I’ll make it again just in case folks weren’t reading my blog the last time I made it.
I can’t stand the hymn, “Silent Night.”
I don’t mind the tune, it’s actually rather beautiful. What I mind is that the song makes no sense theologically or narratively.
- It minimizes the idea that the birth narrative is a story of the incarnation. I know people keep saying, “There are babies that don’t cry when they’re born.” I realize it’s true. Yet, given the serious problem that a lot of Christians have letting Jesus be human I have problems with it.
- People always want to sing this song at the end of the service, right after the point where the shepherds go off rejoicing and praising God. Narrative disconnect anyone? Actually, the placement of “Silent Night” at the very end of the service in order to maintain a sense of nostalgia is pretty much an indictment on a lot of Protestant worship – it has no connection to the story it’s supposed to tell, and doesn’t seem to be looking for it. I just had another conversation of doing “Silent Night” at the end of Christmas Eve worship again. When I pointed out that it doesn’t make narrative sense at that point in the worship the reply, from a person I value highly, was, “It doesn’t have to make sense!” If we’re talking about narrative consistency, it actually does.
Anyway, after the kids went down to bed my daughter made a reappearance and handed me a night with a poem on it. Entitled, “Noisy Night.” Here’s what she wrote.
Noisy Night Holy Night
Mary with Jesus in her arms
angels sent down from Heaven above
While people and animals crowded around.
While the angels sang the people cheered.
What a happy and noisy night.