Article Contributed by
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
2018 marks the 20th anniversary of one of the worlds most beloved Christmas Carols, “Silent Night”. Written as a poem in 1816 by Father Joseph Mohr, the song was first performed on December 24th, 1818 at St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf, Austria by village schoolteacher and organist Franz Xaver Gruber.
The carol is most often heard as a closing hymn at Christmas services, sung softly by candlelight in reverent honor to the birth of the Christ child in a manger in the small town of Bethlehem. The words of the poem set to music evoke peace and tranquility and the hope of generations to come.
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Jamestown plans to mark the anniversary of this beloved hymn with a special performance by well-known local harpist Hannah Finson at their 11pm Eucharist service.
Ms. Finson will accompany the congregation as they sing of the hymn before they exit the church and go back to their homes and families to celebrate one of the most important holidays of the Christian calendar.
“It is difficult to trace the path that has led to present our reality, but it feels like it has been at least 200 years since we have found the peace of a silent night.” says the Rev. Luke Fodor, Rector of St. Luke’s. “Our nights have become filled with the rapid flicker of blue light—from the screens of our TVs, our iPad or our phones. We crave silence and peace. And yet we don’t know how to create it.
Starting this year with our annual signing of Silent Night in the soft warm flicker of candle light, we at St. Luke’s are going to go on a quest to find stillness and silence in our inner lives. We hope you’ll join us or commit to finding stillness, silence and holiness in your life.”
Ms. Finson has been studying the harp since she was 8 years old, and is currently the student of Sonja Inglefield, local chamber musician and harp instructor at SUNY Fredonia. She has had limited public performances, due to the restrictions of moving her 75-pound antique concert harp to performance venues but has gained local acclaim for the graceful and ethereal sounds that she coaxes from the strings of the beautiful instrument.
“The singing of Silent Night by candlelight to quiet organ accompaniment is always the high point of the Christmas Eve service.” adds Andy Schmidt, St. Luke’s Director of Music. “It is always an incredibly beautiful moment, and this year it promises to be even more special with the addition of Ms. Finson’s exceptional talents on the harp.”
Visitors are invited to join the congregation for the traditional candle-lit Christmas Eve Eucharist at St. Luke’s, which begins at 11pm. The church is located at 410 North Main Street, Jamestown. The service will also be broadcast live on Media One Radio stations SE93 and WJTN. For more information about this or any other Christmas services are asked to call the church office at 716-483-6405 or to visit the church website at www.stlukesjamestown.org.