His Light In Us, Even When He Is Silent

His Light In Us, Even When He Is Silent December 24, 2017

“His Light In Us” by Kim André Arnesen is a piece intended for Christmas, although its lyrics do not restrict it to this time of year. Here is an excerpt from the lyrics, from the composer’s website:

God’s distant call
flares in the night,
so long expected, so longed for;
and all my life,
Christ called my name,
and now at last, I’ll answer Him.

​Renewed, his hope,
his light in us,
incarnate, fragile,
our Lord appears,
Alleluia, alleluia!
Eternal,
so perfect,
his cry of changeless love.

The piece above (also found again at the bottom of this post in a different format), “Even When He Is Silent,” is a setting of a text found in a Nazi concentration camp after World War II:

I believe in the sun, even when it’s not shining. I believe in love, even when I feel it not. I believe in God, even when He is silent.

The two pieces, settings of very different texts by Arnesen, seemed to me to deserve to be juxtaposed and reflected on side by side. Christmas is an excellent time for exploring not only light, but the interplay of light and darkness.

Arnesen seems to have a particular fondness for creating Christmas music, and so I will share several more of his works in this blog post. If you have been listening to the same Christmas music over and over, year after year and day after day, this should be refreshing. Let me offer as the next piece his “Dormi, Jesu”:

Next, here is his Christmas Interlude:

Another piece that needs to be included here is his Julenatt:

Cradle Hymn is also fitting for Christmas:

You can hear more of Arnesen’s music on his SoundCloud page, his publisher (Santa Barbara Music Publishing), and on Spotify. What are some of your favorite Christmas works that don’t get as much attention as they deserve?

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  • Phil Ledgerwood

    Die Hard.

    (just kidding)

    (mostly)

  • Phil Ledgerwood

    In more seriousness, I loved this version of O Holy Night by none other than Steve Camp:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyTQTHAfs2k

    Now, when I listen to it, I just think of how incredibly 80s it sounds, but it still has a place in my heart, not the least of which that he only keeps two verses: the first verse and the verse that white people ALWAYS cut from O Holy Night.

  • John MacDonald

    – “Christmas is an excellent time for exploring not only light, but the interplay of light and darkness.” (James McGrath)

    – “Let me say emphatically that I know for lots and lots of people Christmas is the most miserable time of year, a time of loneliness, isolation, fragmentation, and unwanted obligation. I think the fact that so many people find it such a happy time is precisely what makes it such a miserable time for others, either for those who have lost their most cherished loved ones, or all their families; or whose families have fallen apart; who have no one to cherish the season with, or who can’t stand either the grotesque materialism or the superficial happiness of it all in the midst of real suffering, or … well or lots of other things. I completely get that.” (Bart Ehrman)

    • Tim Irish

      As a child, my stable family became suddenly quite poor when I was about seven years old. There was never a cause for celebration (although my father father took to excessive celebration in the local bars each payday). Holidays did not exist anymore in my life. But, as I was a religious boy, Christmas was unchanging. I had always seen it as an essentially spiritual fest (and season) and to want for too much for yourself–even common happiness–was to profane god and defeat the meaning of the day. I was still a kid–I could see no conflict between the spiritual nature of Christmas while still getting lots of things, eating much festive food and giving small gifts to the people to whom I owed gratitude. I think of Christmas as the most zen of holidays–the very simplicity is a gift–as is the humility. Although I still somewhat dread the approach of the American, super-materialistic “Christmas Season” what I fear is the excessiveness, the commerce and the cold insincerity interfering with MY sort of Christmas. It’s a personal thing, what your own Christmas is. The most I can say is mine is about giving something small but a meaningful expression to those I love and should love and about receiving the most humble, perfectly simple gift. Like a very white beeswax candle–a light for the darkness.

      • John MacDonald

        Hi Tim. As a former agnostic public school teacher (ex teacher, not ex agnostic), I was part of a government organization that celebrated the holidays (“holy-days”) of all faiths, including Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc. At the same time, I rallied against things that marginalized certain populations of students (e.g., against the part of my Canadian National Anthem that said “In all our sons command,” which was later changed to “in all of us command” to include females.) . One sticking point for me is the part of the national anthem which says “God keep our land glorious and free,” which in my eyes marginalizes secular students. Any way, having left teaching, I favor “Happy Holidays” over “Merry Christmas,” because the former includes the latter and is not exclusionary.

        But if you ask me personally, aside from public political stances, as a Dark Lord of the Sith (Darth Abomination – “Abominatio” in the Latin, which I prefer), I hope for the day when holy days such as Christmas are relegated to a purely a-religious celebration, like Halloween or St. Patrick’s Day. My Mistress, Lady Chaotique, wishes only that all holidays (holy-days) be divested of their theological ground. Of course, in that my Lady is an agent of the Arch Fiend Agnostus, she is fully prepared to try and reinvest “the theological” back into the holidays once they have been stripped of it. Agnostics generally just want to play Devil’s Advocate, and so are most at home arguing against both sides of an issue – such as, for instance, arguing that Pro Choice is no more correct than Pro Life. In their most defensible forms, Pro Life is claiming it is worth inconveniencing the mother for nine months to save a human life – while Pro Choice is arguing a woman’s autonomy over her own body trumps the life of something that is in no way a sentient human being (Pro Choice points out “Life” by itself is not sacrosanct – such as the life of mosquitoes). It’s a toss up.

        • Tim Irish

          Oy.

          • John MacDonald

            I was just kidding around, lol. I’m always looking for creative ways to express Philosophical reasoning as it transitions from the Disjunctive (inclusive or exclusive) “either-or,” to the Dialectical “both-and,” to the Deconstructive “neither-nor.” James has been talking about Gamification lately, so I’ve been thinking about my agnosticism and the demonic (Devil’s Advocate).