Welcome to the coloured glass classroom! We hope to provide you with lots of creative ideas and resource links to help you engage the young people in your religious and Christian education classes. This blog is sponsored by the Anglican Schools Commission of the Anglican Church Southern Queensland.

18 October 2018

Christmas - Carols and Creativity

What place can actually claim to have shaped the modern spirit of Christmas?

According to Kendall Hall, who wrote the article, ‘Enduring spirit of a Christmas Carol’, published in the Weekend Australian 22-23 September, Oberndorf may be just the place. This small Austrian village just north of Salzburg is famous for being the home of Silent Night!

“In 1818, Mohr, now a Roman Catholic curate in Oberndorf, visited his teacher friend Franz Gruber on Christmas Eve. He brought with him a six-verse poem he’d written; he wanted Gruber’s help setting it to music for that evening’s Midnight Mass. After the endless winter, his parish needed a pick-me-up. A cause for hope.’

Now, to set the scene a tad more fully – things were not going well for the village or the priest. It was freezing cold and church organ was broken! 1816 was the ‘Year Without Summer’! ‘The cataclysmic eruption of Indonesia’s Tambora volcano cast a dense pall of fog over half the world for 18 months! Crops failed, citizens rioted, typhus and cholera raged, many starved or froze to death.’

Silent Night has been a part of history and tradition since 1818. It is the carol that the soldiers sang during the Christmas Truce of 1914. Churchill and Roosevelt sang it in the White House Gardens in 1941 and the song itself is on the UNESCO's list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Perhaps you could look at the history and meaning of this famous Christmas Carol with your students.

Ideas to follow up might include encouraging your students to write their own poem or carol, find Austria on the world map and look at how Christmas is celebrated in other countries, or create some art work to go with this famous Carol.

You may even wish to explore resilience, problem solving or creativity. The lessons you could create based on Silent Night are endless!

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