Posted by: Jim E | December 23, 2011

Christmas: Silent Night…My Acting Debut…And XM Radio…

This happened, I think, in 2008 right before Christmas…and then I wrote about it…sort of a serendipitous moment that morning…I love when that happens…read on…

This morning before some of you got up…I was out for coffee…and listening to, of all things, a 1957 Bing Crosby Christmas program on XM radio…yes, as late as 1957, radio was still an important venue for entertainment and information…TV was not universal at that time and instead of having huge choices in music and entertainment and news…most people knew the major stars, bands, singers, newsmen, etc…today that is just the reverse…there are too many to list…and there is no way for us to know all there is to know out there…if you think you do, its just that you don’t know what you don’t know!!!…

Oh that’s right, there may be those of you who do not know the name Bing Crosby…(you are…Oh, so young)…he was a huge star of stage, screen, radio and later TV…best known as a “crooner”…but you will hear him around this time of year…the song and movie, of the same name, “White Christmas”, the movie “Holiday Inn”…”Silent Night” and other songs and movies he made, are played around Christmas…you will hear and see these from time to time…

So over a cup of coffee, in the car…I listened to the Big Crosby Christmas Eve Show, 1957…he traveled (via radio hook-up) to Jerusalem, Minneapolis, London, a Naval ship on the Mediterranean, various other places…and to Oberndorf, Austria…his son was in the Army, stationed in Europe at the time…and he was in Oberndorf, the town where “Silent Night” was written and performed the first time…

Now that is not exactly true…but let me give you a little history…about 190 years ago…December 24, 1818, “Silent Night” was first performed…but the words were written earlier in 1816 by Father Joseph Mohr…he moved to Oberndorf in 1817…and on Christmas Eve 1818, Joseph Mohr asked Franz Gruber, the choir director at the church, to write a melody and guitar accompaniment to be performed at midnight mass…more on that later…

(Sidebar)…Why did that story and song strike me this morning???…well, as close as I can figure, it was 57 years ago, in 4th or 5th grade, that I made my first and last acting performance…my music teacher, Mrs. Engquist talked me into taking the part (with a lot of help from my mother) of Joseph Mohr in our school Christmas pageant…so I found myself on stage in the Meadowbrook School gym, scared to death…reciting my lines…quill in hand…”Silent Night…Holy Night…all is calm..all is bright”, I recited…(with pauses between the words…all we actors know the pauses must be there to show the “dramatic effect” of the moment)…well, you can see why this was my last performance, as well as my first…(End Sidebar)…

By the mid 1850′s “Silent Night” was already popular (with a few note changes)…even in America…it was written by unknowns…no celebrity to it…yet its powerful message of heavenly peace has crossed all borders and language barriers…loved around the world…(attached is the song I heard this morning from that program)…01 – Silent Night

And no matter where I am, when I hear that song…I am in Minnesota on a cold, snow-covered night…the sky is so clear it seems not possible…my breath form small clouds of white and float upward and disappear…the snow crunches underfoot…and sometime I am holding my Mom’s hand as we walk home from church on Christmas Eve…a bag of Christmas candy in my hand…and sometime, it’s years later, with our own kids…walking to the car as we come out of church…it seems as yesterday…and I never want those memories to be lost…

The wonderful thing about this time of year is the story of Christmas…”For unto you is born this day…a Savior which is Christ the Lord”…and with Him comes peace on earth good will to all men…so this time of year always brings joy…I wish you Joy and Peace…and wonderful memories…Merry Christmas…



  1. Hi Jim,
    I love that you wrote about “Silent Night”. That song always brings me memories of my Grandma Margie (who I’ve mentioned to you previously). That song was my Grandpa’s favorite song, and therefore it was my Grandma’s favorite song also. (Grandpa passed away when I was 10 years old.) Every year, when we went to Church on Christmas Eve, the service would always end with Silent Night by candlelight, and Grandma would always cry, thinking about Grandpa. After Church, we would go back to Grandma’s house and she would make dinner and tell me stories about her early years with Grandpa. Grandma passed away suddenly in 1993. Christmas Eve service still ends with Silent Night by candlelight and every year, I end up in tears thinking about Grandma and Grandpa, and how they loved that song. Then my girls and I spend the rest of Christmas Eve doing an outreach to people who have to work that night. Then we drive around looking at Christmas lights and I tell them stories about Grandma and Grandpa. It’s amazing how one song can generate so many memories and stories. Thanks for letting me share my memory with you. I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas!
    Take care,

    • Julie…what a great memory/comment…are you sure you shouldn’t be blogging???…I can relate to your story about your Grandma and Grandpa…and I guess you would agree with me, that I wish I had spent more time with them than I did…and I lived next door to one set of grandparents!!!…but they have become more precious as the years go by…I can see that in your comments too…and you are passing on their memories to your family…great stuff…

      That time in my life was so long ago..but I remember the feeling on stage…one of fear, of course, but I learned a bit about the song “Silent Night”…it has meant a lot to me too…you talked about spending time with people who had to work that night…our oldest granddaughter got her first job in nursing this year, after graduating last spring…and of course she had to work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day…so we had Christmas Eve celebration at our house…and waited for her to get off work to have our celebration…and the next day we waited for her to get off work to open her gifts and all that came with that…she dressed up for “her” kids at the hospital…(works at Children hospital here in Little Rock, 12 hour shifts)…she is doing a “great work” and as all who give up their celebrations to take care of others…she is special…

      So thanks for the comment…it was wonderful…and I will share this with others…thanks again…Jim E

      • God bless your granddaughter for working at Children’s Hospital. The Children’s here in Cincinnati is wonderful and the nurses are the ones who “make or break” a child who’s hospitalized. They spend the most time with the children (besides the parents) and can really make a difference for a child who’s scared or nervous. One of my girls is also a patient at the Cleveland Clinic and their pediatric care is wonderful as well. The pediatric doctors up there have told us they can take care of her until she’s 21 years old. She’s 19 now so we’ve got 2 more years with them. Then we have to move to the “adult” doctors. Tell your granddaughter congratulations on her graduation and I think it’s wonderful that she’s chosen to work with children. What a blessing to both the children as well as the parents she comes in contact with.
        Take care,

      • Julie…thanks…I did give your thoughts to my granddaughter…it will be an encourager to her as she begins her career…she is so good at whatever she does…and she will be wonderful at this too…working with “her kids”, as she calls them…Jim E

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