Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Jon McNaughton's The Nativity

The music of "Silent Night" was written in 1818 by the church organist Franz Xaver Gruber of St Nicholas Church in the village of Oberndorf bei Salzburg for the poem "Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht," written in 1816 by Father Joseph Mohr.  The piece was first performed for the Christmas Eve mass in 1818. The song was sung simultaneously in English and German by troops

During the World War I Christmas Truce of 1914 — an unofficial truce rebuffed by the officers but effected by the soldiers themselves — this beloved Christmas carol was sung simultaneously in English and German as it was the one carol that soldiers on both sides of the battle lines knew.

The version below was filmed on location at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City:

From the YouTube blurb:
Meaning / Story behind the song:

Silent Night, Holy Night. All is calm, all is bright!

Sometimes it seems there is little in this world today that is silent, holy, calm, or bright. However noisy, unholy, frenetic, or dark it may appear to be, music such as the immortal hymn, “Silent Night,” carries with it a feeling that can remind us there is still an abundance of virtue all around us. There is hope and beauty. And there is light.

To properly paint this feeling we collaborated with none other than the tenor legend, Plácido Domingo, whose sublime vocal gift is rivaled by his kindness and sincerity. It was a joy to work with him. He is an artist whose illustrious, exalted career has not snuffed out his sweet disposition or his genuine love for the art of music. Joining us are the children from the Cathedral School Choristers, whose pure faith proclaim the profound message of this hymn. We filmed this during an East coast tour in the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, one of the largest cathedrals in the world, a colossal monument to the greatest gift ever given, the Son of God.

May your Christmas this year be filled with serenity, spirituality, peace, and felicity.

Merry Christmas from The Piano Guys!
Another version...the Vienna Choir Boys performing "Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht":

Artist's explanation for the painting at the top of this blog post:
With careful study and subtle reverence, I endeavored to paint the Nativity as I imagined it. The soft blue starlight lightens the landscape of Bethlehem while the shepherds gather reverently around the newborn King. What kind of wonder and awe were they feeling? I tried to instill in their faces the emotions I would have had, had I been there. I wanted this scene to feel as real as possible. I visited Bethlehem in the spring of 2007 and was able to get a good feel for the landscape and how it might have been. In my mind, I see Joseph holding the oil lamp which illuminates the small grotto. He humbly kneels before the infant and his beloved Mary. He would do anything for her. Mary, although young in age, is blessed among women and has wisdom beyond her years. She carefully pulls back the cloth to reveal the Son of God to the quiet shepherds. These shepherds, so humble by nature, were the first to see the prophesied Christ child. Their joy and gratitude must have been overwhelming. A little white lamb without blemish curiously lies beside the manger looking at the babe. For me, this lamb represents the forthcoming sacrifice of the only Begotten Son who would in the future give His life for all of us. I hope you feel the great love the Savior has for you as you contemplate this painting of the Nativity.

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