“Giving hope a voice” on Christmas Eve
(LWI) – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany has invited its members to “give hope a voice” by singing the cherished Christmas hymn Silent Night at 8pm on Christmas Eve. Sing "from balconies, from windows or doors, at a safe distance," the bishops of the church wrote in a letter to the church. “In this way, we can be close to each other at Christmas in a moment when we otherwise cannot be this year."
Christmas this year takes place in the unique situation of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Because of this many, including the people of Germany, will celebrate Christmas in a situation of lockdown, unable to attend church in person or celebrate with family and friends. Churches worldwide are offering live or recorded online services and using online technologies to nurture a connection and share the gospel of the birth of Jesus.
“I am sure that it will be a comfort to sing, apart and yet together, into the night, which this year will be more silent than any Christmas Eve that we know,” Bishop Kristina Kühnbaum-Schmidt said in a video message. Before, she had advised congregations to carefully discern whether a physical worship service would be safe in their church. The new lockdown in Germany means a “big responsibility for us as a church, because we are important for the people,” said Kühnbaum-Schmidt.
Singing Silent Night is a cherished Christmas tradition in many countries. Composed in Austria in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr, it has been translated into about 140 languages. The hymn was declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2011.
In order to reach as many as possible, the bishops of the church in Northern Germany also called on members and congregations of the church, to share this call to song of hope on social media and in their networks.