The true story of ‘Silent Night’, in Faith and Freedom

In the latest issue of Faith and Freedom Andrew Page tells the true story of the famous carol Silent Night and gives a new and entirely faithful translation of the hymn.

Christmas Ballee Candlelight December 2009

Andrew Page writes:

“We are all familiar with Silent Night – or, at least, we think we are. We know the famous tune, we can recite the familiar English words, we might even know the tale of the church organ and the mice – whose supposed gnawing through the bellows necessitated the writing of a new carol played by guitar.

Familiarity, however, does not necessarily lend itself to understanding. To understand the meaning of Silent Night the first thing that must be done is to strip away the myths. Myths inevitably point us towards truth – real, deep and meaningful truths, that a mere retelling of the facts never could. However, when a mythologised version of events becomes widely accepted as historical truth, it must be challenged.

A myth is a story that never was, but always is. And so it is with the myth of Silent Night. The traditional story tells us of how hungry church mice had eaten a hole in the bellows of the church organ in Oberndorf. The damage was discovered in Christmas Eve, just a few hours before the young priest, Father Mohr, was due to lead Midnight Mass. Attempts were made to find a means of repairing the organ, but these efforts proved unsuccessful. As Mohr’s congregation would need something to sing, and with the organ out of commission, the priest was inspired by a pastoral visit he had carried out earlier in the day, to a mother and her sick baby. He penned the now world-famous words, and then ran to his friend Franz Gruber – a schoolmaster and organist – to ask him to quickly compose a tune. When a man arrived after Christmas to repair the organ, he was so impressed with the new composition that he passed it on to the Strasser family, a travelling group of musicians and singers very similar, I assume, to the Von Trapps of Sound of Music fame. The Strassers later published it and the rest is history.

Or is it?….”

From ‘The Story of Silent Night’ by Andrew Page published in Faith and Freedom, AUTUMN AND WINTER 2019 (Volume 72, Part 2) issue 189

An annual subscription costs £15 (postage included). Please contact the business manager to take out a subscription:

Nigel Clarke,
Business Manager, Faith and Freedom,
16 Fairfields, Kirton in Lindsey,
Gainsborough, Lincolnshire.  DN21 4GA.

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Email: faithandfreedom@btinternet.com

Faith and Freedom Cover 2019

Faith and Freedom, Autumn and Winter 2019

FAITH AND FREEDOM, AUTUMN AND WINTER 2019 (Volume 72, Part 2) issue 189 is now available

Articles include:

T.E. Lawrence and God by Howard Oliver

An engrossing study of the evolution of the religious thought of T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), of one of the most enigmatic and complicated public figures of the twentieth century. (See above image of the memorial plaque to T. E. Lawrence, unveiled at the Oxford High School for Boys by Winston Churchill, 3rd October, 1936.)

 

The Story of Silent Night by Andrew Page

The true story of the transmission and translation of the famous carol Silent Night, uncovering its three ‘lost’ verses and giving an entirely new and faithful translation of the hymn first sung at the bicentenary service held last year in Cairo Street Unitarian Chapel Warrington..

 

Romantic Religion by Tim Clancy

What do we mean by God and how do we understand God. “In so far as we recognize God’s loving recognition of us, we come to participate ever more intimately and ever more fully in God’s own power, the power of being itself. In this way God can be said to actively relate to us without determining us.”

 

Barbara Ward and this Journal: ‘Faith and Freedom’ by Dan C. West

The writings of the late Barbara Ward which share similarities of ethos as well as of name with the journal.

 

In the Interim by Sue Norton

Exploring being in the interim.

 

Books reviewed:

Liberal faith beyond Utopian dreams

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Nancy McDonald Ladd, After the Good News: Progressive Faith Beyond Optimism, Skinner House Books, Boston 2019, pp 159, ISBN 978-1-55896-828-8.  $16.00 pbk.

Reviewed by Jim Corrigall

 

The 1960s – a new spirituality for a new world

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Sam Brewitt-Taylor, Christian Radicalism in the Church of England and the Invention of the British Sixties, 1957-1970; The Hope of a World Transformed, Oxford University Press, 2018 pp 272, ISBN 978-0-19-882700-9, £65, hbk.

Reviewed by Marcus Braybrooke

 

Climate Crisis – essential reading

Simon L. Lewis and Mark A. Maslin, The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene, Pelican (2018), pp 465, ISBN: 978-0-241-28088-1, £8.99

David Wallace-Wells, The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future, Allen Lane (2019), pp 310, ISBN: 978-0-241-35521-3, £20.00

James Lovelock with Bryan Appleyard, Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence, Allen Lane (2019), pp 139, ISBN:  978-0-241-39936-1, £14.99

Reviewed by David A. Williams

 

Unitarians and Biblical revision

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Alan H. Cadwallader The politics of the Revised Version: a tale of two New Testament revision companies, T & T Clark, 2019, pp. 224, ISBN: 978-0567673466, £85 hbk.

Reviewed by Andrew M. Hill

 

Clerical corruption in the Vatican

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Frederic Martel trans. Shaun Whiteside, In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy, Bloomsbury, London, 2019, pp.570. ISBN 978-1472966148, £25, hbk.

Reviewed by Frank Walker

 

An annual subscription costs £15 (postage included). Contact the business manager:

Nigel Clarke,
Business Manager, Faith and Freedom,
16 Fairfields, Kirton in Lindsey,
Gainsborough, Lincolnshire.  DN21 4GA.

It’s also possible to pay via PayPal via clicking here.

Email: faithandfreedom@btinternet.com

Faith and Freedom

HMCO quad

Faith and Freedom gave its annual report to the meeting of the Ministerial Old Students Association and the Annual Meeting of Friends and Honorary Governors held at Harris Manchester College, Oxford on 24th  -26th June, 2019. It was an excellent meeting, one of the highlights being the Principal, Professor Jane Shaw’s illustrated lecture on  The Arts and Empathy. Nigel Clarke, the business manager for the journal gave an impressive powerpoint presentation outlining the last year’s activity. A number of new subscribers signed up to receive the journal.

HMCO Nigel speaks

Nigel delivering the annual report

HMCO Principal lecture

Art and Empathy lecture by the Principal

HMCO worship in the chapel

Worship in the college chapel

HMCO kindle 02

‘Kindle’, a steel and glass artwork by Steve James and Vital Peeters in the college herb garden

F&F Cover 188

The latest issue 

 

Faith and Freedom Spring and Summer 2019

Faith and Freedom, Spring and Summer (volume 72 part 1) issue 188, is now available.

Articles include:

Towards Third Millennium Christianity Activism, Nonviolence and the Mystical Imperative by Alastair McIntosh

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Alastair McIntosh lecturing at Rawtenstall. This photo and the one above courtesy of John Hewerdine

Described by the BBC as ‘one of the world’s leading environmental campaigners’ Alastair McIntosh is a pioneer of modern land reform in Scotland and an honorary fellow of the School of Divinity at Edinburgh University and an honorary professor at Glasgow University. This is a challenging and far-reaching lecture originally given at Rawtenstall Unitarian Church, Lancashire in March 2019 as part of the ‘Future of Faith’ lecture series organised by Unitarians of the Lancashire Collaborative Ministry and Pendle Hill Quakers, supported by the Progressive Christianity Network.

An Appearance of Francis David: A Chautauqua Performance  by Kevin Murphy, Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Nevada, Reno

Francis David 01

Ferenc Dávid’s Address to the 1568 Diet of Torda by Aladár Körösfői-Kriesch

A Chautauqua Performance is the portrayal of an historical figure talking about their lives and views as if they had just appeared from the past. Through it Dr Murphy gives tremendous insight into the life, sufferings and achievements of this neglected figure of the Transylvanian reformation. 

What do these stones mean to you? by David Steers, editor Faith and Freedom

Toxteth

The cover picture of the new issue of Faith and Freedom. Rural Toxteth in 1821 showing the Ancient Chapel and the view along Park Road, from an original lithograph by Samuel & George Nicholson

A sermon delivered at the 400th anniversary service of the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth, Liverpool in November 2018. In 1611: At a place called Toxteth Park near Liverpool, there dwelt a wise and Religious People, who being desirous of the good of themselves and their Posterity, intended to erect a School amongst them. A few years later they built a chapel which has continued to be used for worship through four centuries. This sermon celebrates the life and history of the congregation.

International Association for Religious Freedom: Our Vision for the Future

A new statement issued by the International Council, meeting in Tokyo in March 2019.

Plus a collection of fascinating reviews by Marcus Braybrooke, Peter B. Godfrey, Bob Janis-Dillon, Jim Corrigall, David Steers, John W. Nelson.

Books reviewed:

Richard Burridge and Jonathan Sacks (eds), Confronting Religious Violence: A Counter-narrative(SCM Press)

Marcus Braybrooke, Faiths Together for the Future, The story of the World Congress of Faiths and the growing global interfaith movement to heal the world, (Braybrooke Press)

Marcus Braybrooke, Sikhism, A Christian Approach, (Braybrooke Press)

Stan Hazell, A Long Way from Adi Ghehad: Journey of an asylum seeker: Dr Teame Mebrahtu, (Shepheard-Walwyn)

W. Jamieson, A World in Two Minds, Why we must change our thinking to change our future, (Shepheard-Walwyn)

Paul E. Hill, The Urban Myths of Popular Modern Atheism. How Christian Faith Can Be Intelligent, (Christian Alternative)

Robert Llewelyn, Why Pray? (Darton, Longman & Todd)

Dan C. West, Causeway To A Bigger World, (Mountain Arbor Press)

David Steers (ed.), First World War Roll of Honour of the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland, (First Presbyterian [Non-Subscribing] Church, Downpatrick)

Peter C. Humphreys, Four Hundred Years of English Congregational and Welsh Independent Churches in Liverpool (1618-2018), (Kilmainham Congregational Publishing, Dublin)

An annual subscription for each volume (two issues) costs £15.00 (postage included) in the United Kingdom. Single copies can be ordered at a cost of £8.00 each (postage included). Cheques should be made out to Faith and Freedom and sent to the business manager:

Nigel Clarke,
Business Manager, Faith and Freedom,
16 Fairfields,
Kirton in Lindsey,
Gainsborough,
Lincolnshire.
DN21 4GA.

Email: faithandfreedom@btinternet.com

Alternatively you can pay via PayPal by clicking here.

 

Unitarian Theology

In 2016 and 2018 Faith and Freedom published two well-received supplements based on the Unitarian Theology Conferences organised by Jim Corrigall, Jo James and Stephen Lingwood and held at Cross Street Chapel, Manchester in May 2016 and at Mill HIll Chapel, Leeds in October, 2017. Both are now available for free download from here. Click on the links below to download the booklets.

UTI Cover

Click on this link to download the booklet: Unitarian Theology I

UT2 Cover

Click on this link to download the booklet: Unitarian Theology II

 

Faith and Freedom Calendar 2019 available to download

The Faith and Freedom Calendar is available and has been sent out to all individual subscribers to the journal. You can order additional hard copies from Nigel Clarke, the business manager (faithandfreedom@btinternet.com), in return for a donation which will go to the Send a Child to Hucklow Fund.

The whole Calendar is also available to view and to download via the following link:

faith and freedom calendar 2019 web

 

This year’s Calendar features:

Winter in the Vale of Edale, Peak District National Park. Photo:  Andrew Clarke

Church House, Abbey Street, Armagh.Photo: Paul Eliasberg

Gerbera (African Daisy). Photo: Graham Bonham

Juvenile blackbird. Photo: Graham Bonham

A celebration of famous Unitarians on Dunas Day, Torockó, Romania. Photo: Sára Bíró

St John’s Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Malta. Photo: Anne Wild

Lake Ohrid viewed from the church of the Archangel Michael, Radožda, Macedonia. Photo: Tony Lemon

Unitarian service at Bölön, Transylvania, Romania. Photo: Sára Bíró

Dandelion seed head. Photo: Graham Bonham

Methodist chapel, Barber Booth, Edale, Derbyshire. Photo: Andrew Clarke

Commemorating the centenary of the end of WW1, Downpatrick. Photo: David Steers

Cygnets on Ballydugan Lake, county Down. Photo: David Steers

Cover scan back 2019

Faith and Freedom 2019 Calendar

The Faith and Freedom Calendar for 2019 is now winging its way to all individual subscribers around the world. Additional copies can be had for a suggested donation of £5 (all of which goes to the Send a Child to Hucklow Fund). Email Nigel Clarke at faithandfreedom@btinternet.com if you would like to order one.

The Calendar is full of fantastic images celebrating the world of faith and the natural world, each month carrying a large illustration from around the world including Derbyshire Peak District, Northern Ireland (Armagh and Down), Malta (St John’s Co-Cathedral Valletta), Transylvania (Torockó and Bölön), and Macedonia (Lake Ohrid) as well as Graham Bonham’s brilliantly detailed pictures of plants and birds.

There is a scan of the cover at the top of this page, and of the back cover at the bottom and here are some of Graham’s images:

Flower Graham Bonham

March
Gerbera is a member of the daisy family and was named after Dr Trugott Gerber, an eighteenth-century German botanist and friend of Carl Linnaeus. The plant is native to the tropics and is commonly known as the African daisy. A perennial, it is attractive to insects and birds but resistant to deer. The picture was constructed by combining multiple images focused at different points into a single composite image.

 

blackbird

April
The common blackbird is a species of true thrush. RS Thomas’ poem ‘A Blackbird Singing’ cites “a suggestion of dark Places about it.” However it is not normally seen as a symbol of bad luck. In medieval times the trick of placing live birds under a pie crust just before serving may have been the origin of the nursery rhyme. A blackbird also featured on the UK 4d stamp in 1966.

 

Seeds Graham Bonham

September
The image of the dandelion seed head can be interpreted in many ways, explains Graham Bonham who created the focus-stacked composite image. “It could symbolize transience – the temporariness of existence: there one moment and blown away the next. Alternatively, it could represent fecundity – one bloom produces hundreds of potential new lives – or be about underappreciated beauty: even pesky ‘weeds’, which many people use ‘chemical weapons’ against (to the detriment of the environment), have beautiful aspects.”

 

Cover scan back 2019

Faith and Freedom Number 187

The latest issue of Faith and Freedom (Autumn and Winter 2018, Volume 71 Part 2,  Number 187) is now available.

The front cover has a self-portrait of Edward Lear as the ‘Archbishoprick of Canterbury’ with his cat Foss which relates to Howard Oliver’s article Beyond the Nonsense: Edward Lear and his Writings on Religion and Faith, a rare examination of the religious thought of this unique artist. Other articles include Barrie Needham’s exploration of language, reason and faith in Mysteries Too Deep for Words; Dan C. West’s For Fear of the New, Missing the God of Surprises looks at how we respond religiously to the destructive contemporary challenges that are emerging in society on both sides of the Atlantic; Frank Walker makes a distinction between ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ Christianity in What has Christianity ever done for us?; and Peter B. Godfrey recounts his experiences and memories of A Theological Student at Oxford 1953 to 1956.

As always the journal is richly supplied with reviews, including two review articles:

Alastair McIntosh, Poacher’s Pilgrimage – An Island Journey, Birlinn, Edinburgh, March 2018, pp 285, ISBN 9781780274683.  £9.99 Pbk. Reviewed by Jim Corrigall. An insightful evaluation of this book informed by an interview Jim conducted with the author.

Unitarian Theology II. Papers given at the Unitarian Theology Conference, Mill Hill Chapel, Leeds October 2017. Edited by David Steers. (Faith and Freedom, 2018). ISSN 0014-701X. Reviewed by Bob Janis-Dillon who gives a close examination of the supplement which accompanied the Number 186 of Faith and Freedom.

Other books reviewed are:

Derek Guiton A Man that Looks on Glass: Standing up for God in the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), FeedARead Publishing, 2015, pp 266. ISBN: 978-1-78610-232-4. Reviewed by Stephen Lingwood.

Rachel Hewitt, A Revolution of Feeling: The Decade that Forged the Modern Mind, Granta, 2017, pp 560. ISBN 978 1 84708 573 3. Hbk £25. Reviewed by Ernest Baker.

Jane Shaw, Pioneers of Modern Spirituality: The Neglected Anglican Innovators of a ‘Spiritual but not Religious’ Age,  Darton, Longman and Todd, London 2018, pp 117, ISBN 978-0232053286-9. £12.99 pbk. Reviewed by Jim Corrigall.

Mike Aquilina and Grace Aquilina, A History of the Church in 100 Objects, Ave Maria Press/Alban Books. Notre Dame/Edinburgh, 2017, pp 424. ISBN 9781594717505. £20.99 pbk. Reviewed by David Steers.

Simenon Honoré, Education for Humanity, Spirit of the Rainbow, Suite 70, 2, Mount Sion, , Tunbridge Wells, TN1 1UE, pp88, ISBN 978-0-9566767-5-7, PB £5, plus £2 p&p. Reviewed by Peter B. Godfrey.

If you would like to take out an annual subscription please send a cheque for £15 to the business manager:

Nigel Clarke,
Business Manager, Faith and Freedom,
16 Fairfields,
Kirton in Lindsey,
Gainsborough,
Lincolnshire.
DN21 4GA.

Or you can go online and subscribe via PayPal:

http://www.faithandfreedom.org.uk/subs.htm

 

Faith and Freedom

Faith and Freedom was able to report on another successful year at the Ministerial Old Students Association and the Annual Meeting of Friends and Honorary Governors held at Harris Manchester College, Oxford on 18th – 20th June. The meetings also marked the retirement of the Principal, Rev Dr Ralph Waller, now Sir Ralph Waller KBE to whom goes warmest congratulations. It was also pleasing to see Rev Dr Peter Godfrey, our Editor Emeritus at the meetings.

HMCO June 2018 PG NC

Rev Dr Peter Godfrey, Editor Emeritus, and Nigel Clarke, Business Manager, Faith and Freedom

HMCO June 2018 principal

Retiring Principal Sir Ralph Waller, KBE, addresses the Annual Meeting of Friends and Governors

Cover

The cover of the latest issue depicting the inscription at the base of the new religious freedom monument in Torda. ‘No one shall be reviled for his religion by anyone, for faith is the gift of God’. Quotation from the Edict of Torda of 1568 inscribed on the new memorial, ‘Ad Astra’ by Liviu Mocan, unveiled at Torda, Transylvania, Romania on 13th January 2018. 

Faith and Freedom Number 186

Faith and Freedom (Volume 71 Part 1) Number 186, Spring and Summer 2018 is now ready and will be arriving with subscribers shortly. This issue includes the address delivered by Dávid Gyerő, deputy Bishop of the Hungarian Unitarian Church, at the dedication of the Religious Freedom Memorial at Torda in Transylvania, Romania, on 13th January, 2018, that is the 450th anniversary of the promulgation of the Edict of Torda, one of the first expressions of religious toleration in European history. It also includes the full text of Faith Without Certainty in Uncertain Times the Keynote Address given at the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches in April by Paul Rasor. This is a highly pertinent examination of the place of liberal religious thought in the current climate. Among his arguments Dr Rasor stresses reason:

 

We live in postmodern times where the idea of freedom of conscience might be twisted in a way that supports not the search for truth, but rather denies the possibility of shared truth. Have we liberals, with our emphasis on freedom of conscience, unwittingly contributed to the problem? How do we respond to this?…I think the answer lies in our emphasis on reason. Reason has always been a central feature of our liberal religious faith. At times we may have over-emphasized reason, but that doesn’t deny its importance. Historically it was the basis on which our forebears challenged outdated dogmas that did not fit with modern science, for example. Reason also plays an important role in our emphasis on the search for truth and meaning in our lives. In the post-truth society, in contrast, there is no room for reason. Instead of supporting our beliefs, reason now becomes a hindrance to them. This development is a threat not only to liberal faith, but to liberal democracy.  

 

Dr Rasor presents his suggestion of ideals and visions for religious liberals as a way towards progress in society.

 

Other articles include Helena Fyfe Thonemann’s examination of David Hume’s essay ‘Of Miracles’ and Professor James C. Coomer’s reflection on Jesus of Nazareth: A Quintessential Humanist:

 

What do we in the twenty-first century know about Jesus of Nazareth?  We only know what his friends said about him. There is no Jesus to know apart from his friends. He comes to us through his friends, or he does not come to us at all. His friends stand between us and him as barriers to the truth, or bearers of the truth… Jesus of Nazareth is quoted as having said that if one wanted to find contentment, one must look within oneself. The existential Jesus is, perhaps, the quintessential humanist.

 

Faith and Freedom is especially noted for the quality of its reviews of the latest books and this issue contains the following reviews:

Vincent Strudwick (with Jane Shaw), The Naked God: Wrestling for a grace-ful humanity.   Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd, London, 2017

Rachel Mann, Fierce Imaginings: The Great War, Ritual, Memory and God,  Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd, London 2017

both by Jim Corrigall.

Marianne Moyaert and Joris Geldhof, Ritual Participation and Interreligious Dialogue: Boundaries, transgressions and Innovations, Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2016

by Marcus Braybrooke.

Hans le Grand and Tina Geels, It is all about your search for truth and meaning, not about our belief system: a new perspective for religious liberalism, privately published, Netherlands, 2016.

Mark D. Thompson, Colin Bale and Edward Loane, eds., Celebrating the Reformation: its legacy and continuing relevance, Apollos/Inter-Varsity Press, 2017

Wayne Facer, A Vision Splendid: the influential life of William Jellie: a British Unitarian in New Zealand , Blackstone Editions, Toronto, 2017

all by Andrew Hill

A Documentary History of Unitarian Universalism, Volume 1 From the Beginning to 1899, Volume 2 From 1900 to the Present, Edited by Dan McKanan, Skinner House Books, Boston, USA, 2017

Gleanings from the Writing of Nicholas Teape, edited by June Teape, privately published, 2013

both by David Steers

For new subscribers this issue of Faith and Freedom will also be accompanied by a free copy of Unitarian Theology II, the new book containing the papers given at the Unitarian Theology Conference in Leeds in October 2017.

UT2 Cover

 

This offer will be available only while stock lasts. The book contains:

Wrestling, Resisting, Resting – different ways of responding to the Divine voice

by Ant Howe

Models of God and the Meaning of Love

by Jane Blackall

The Unchained Spirit: Kenotic Theology and the Unitarian Epic

by Lewis Connolly

Theology from Women’s Experience

By Ann Peart

Early Unitarians and Islam: revisiting a ‘primary document’

by Justin Meggitt

Dialogues of Faith: An Adamsian Approach to Unitarian Evangelism

by Stephen Lingwood

An annual subscription (two issues) costs £15.00 (postage included) and can be paid online at www.faithandfreedom.org.uk/subs.htm

If you subscribe now the latest issue of Faith and Freedom will be sent to you along with Unitarian Theology II.