Silent Night Memorial Chapel, Frankenmuth, MI
As one season ends, another begins. It’s that way in nature and it’s that way in life as well. Autumn is past and I must say farewell to it as we enter into winter. I must also say farewell to my recent postings about our trip to Michigan.
As I wind up this series while preparing for and anticipating Christmas, I find it serendipitous that my last post highlights a well-known Christmas song, Silent Night.
You probably know the one: Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright…
That beloved hymn, originally written in German and titled “Stille Nacht,” was composed by Franz Gruber and Joseph Mohr in Austria in 1818. Mohr, a pastor in Oberndorf bei Salzburg had written a poem and was hopeful that his friend Gruber, the church choir master and organist, could set the words to music for Christmas Eve’s midnight mass.
It is absolutely amazing that this beautiful song was composed in just a few hours and first sung on that same Christmas Eve. However, because of a flood, the church’s organ had been damaged and could not be used.
So instead, Gruber composed the music to be accompanied by guitar. The church, which had its foundation damaged in the flood, was later demolished and when a new church was built, a small memorial chapel was also constructed, the Silent Night Chapel.
Many decades later in 1945, a man named Wally Bronner opened a CHRISTmas Wonderland store in Frankenmuth, Michigan. As his store succeeded and grew, Bronner began importing Christmas ornaments and on a trip to Europe, he visited the Silent Night Chapel in Oberndorf, Austria.
An idea became reality for the Christmas store owner. He had reserved space on his many acres site where his store is located for something to thank God for blessing his business. Bronner acquired permission from authorities to build a replica of Austria’s Silent Night Chapel.
Built and dedicated in 1992, Bronner’s memorial chapel stands 56-feet tall and is open for visitors every day during store hours; there is no admission charge to enter the chapel. Inside you may view a lovely altar behind glass and the words to Silent Night are portrayed all around the chapel walls in many different languages.
Altar inside the replica chapel
Click here to see a video of Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland’s Silent Night Memorial Chapel.
It’s a tranquil spot to sit and meditate on the lyrics as the song, both vocal and instrumental versions, plays quietly in the background. Another interesting fact is that every Christmas Eve, carolers gather inside the chapel to sing Silent Night, first in German and then in English.
Two of the stained glass windows
We found the chapel to be an inspiring place to visit and it definitely reminded us of the real reason why we celebrate Christmas, the purpose for setting aside this time to recall what happened on one silent night over 2000 years ago in a little town called Bethlehem.
That silent night became the most miraculous silent night of all time, when the Messiah, the Son of God, was born as a “holy infant so tender and mild” and was named Jesus.
“Bethlehem was just the beginning. I call Jesus Christ’s next appearance, Bethlehem, Act 2. No silent night this time, however. The skies will open, trumpets will blast, and a new kingdom will begin.” ~ Max Lucado