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Thursday, December 24, 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.


  1. Merry Christmas to you and yours, AoW!

    May the dawn glow a little brighter on Christmas morning!

  2. "a colossal monument to the greatest gift ever given, the Son of God."
    Merry Christmas to both you and Mr. AOW!
    And all who frequent here!
    All. :)

  3. blessings AOW...stay safe my dear friend!! xoxoxox

    • ★ Merry ★* 。 • ˚ ˚ ˛ ˚ ˛ •
    •。★ Christmas 。* 。
    ° 。 ° ˛˚˛ * _Π_____*。*˚
    ˚ ˛ •˛•˚ */______/~\。˚ ˚ ˛
    ˚ ˛ •˛• ˚| 田田 |門| ˚And a Happy New Year
    * Joy to all! ♫•*¨* Peace on Earth ♪♫•*¨*

    1. WHT,
      Merry Christmas!

      And that graphic in your comment! How did you DO that?

    2. I thought she did it just for me. Oh well.

  4. WHT, yes...how the heck DO you do that!?? So cute.
    Beautiful post, AOW...MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and Mr. AOW.

    I believe that the truce included the French; for some reason, Wiki doesn't speak much of it, but it's portrayed in a film I highly recommend called Joyeux Noel...

    Merry Christmas, everybody! XXX Z

    1. Z,
      Merry Christmas!

      I'll check out the film you mentioned.

  5. We are up to a foot of new snow as of now and more expected. Is it OK to say White Christmas here? LOL.

    Merry Christmas You Two!

    1. "White Christmas" is perfectly fine here.

      As for all that snow, keep it out your way.

      Merry Christmas, my good friend. And give my best wishes to Mrs. Woodsterman, too.

  6. Merry Christmas to you and yours! :-)

    1. Old NFO,
      Merry Christmas! Hope that you're soon settled in, in your new digs,

  7. Jon M . is my favorite artist of our time- thank you for posting his Nativity - and- for reminding me of the Piano Guys-
    Love and Hugs-

    1. Christmas blessings to you, Carol. Keep on fighting the good fight!

  8. Wonderful! Mr. B and I are having this with our soup tonight.

  9. Enjoyed this post AOW. Merry Christmas to all of the AOW's !

  10. On earth has dawned this day of days;
    Let all good people sing its praise,
    For Christ has come to save us all.
    Sing Alleluia in every hall.

    ~ Olde Sheepshead Bay Acolyte's Carol

  11. Wishing you and Mr AOW a wonderful Christmas.

  12. Thanks for the post, and Merry Christmas.

    1. Citizen Tom! Welcome!

      Merry Christmas, my fellow Virginian.

  13. Silent Night with Placido Domingo and The Piano Guys at St. John's is an interesting alternative to the traditional interpretation. Even though Domingo is now advanced in years, he still sings with great sensitivity to the text, even though his voice has developed a wobble –– as voices invariably do with the passage of time. He must be well into his 70's by now.

    Not to be too picky, but I wish the second verse had not been presented so forcefully. It shatters the mood of serenity in "heavenly peace."

    Silent Night is, after all a lullaby for the newborn Jesus, is it not?

    1. Sometimes, opera singers belt it out when they shouldn't. Ego, perhaps?


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