Joseph Mohr was a young priest and musician in a time when the Catholic Church was going through many changes. There was a new ruling that mass should be held in the native language of the people. However, many traditionalists were holding on to the traditional Latin mass.
Oberndorf was a poor town with many common people. They did not attend church because the Latin mass and the ridicule of the town's elite caused them to feel excluded. Joseph Mohr had a heartfelt burden for these people. He wanted to share the love of God with them.
Joseph ate his meals in the local tavern. He sang songs with and befriended the common people in the tavern. He encourage them to sing in the church choir. He also began to conduct mass in German. These efforts were opposed by the affluent members of the town and Joseph's superior. The opposition was so great that Joseph considered giving up and transferring to a church in a different town.
With Christmas drawing near, Joseph decided that the town needed a special Christmas Eve concert to draw the people together. He and Franz Gruber struggled to compose a special song for the occasion. Everything seemed to be against them completing their task. The traditionalists' opposition grew stronger, church attendance was down and the church organ even broke down. Finally, they decided to set music to a poem that Joseph had written some time earlier.
Joseph accompanied the song on his guitar while he, Franz and the church choir sang. The concert was well attended by both the traditionalists and the common people. The power and expression of the song melted the hearts of the town's traditionalists and brought unity to the people. It caused them to remember the power of God's love and the fact that they were all in need of His grace.
Words are amazing tools for communication. Many great works of literature have been and will continue to be written. Many powerful speeches and sermons have touched people's hearts and changed their lives. However, there is something even more powerful that happens when an amazing set of words are combined with just the right touch of music. A form of expression is created that can break through traditions and penetrate even the hardest heart. A few verses can say more than an entire sermon. That is the power of a song.