However, in the midst of the working out which bits we were going to sing in which language and the ironing out of some bad singing habits, something remarkable happened. I started to really notice the words of the carol. Most of us can sing ‘Silent Night’ by heart, without thinking. This time, I really noticed the content of the words and what they meant to me. The phrase that stood out was “redeeming grace”. How marvellous is that? Redeeming grace. If you read the verse out loud as a sentence, rather than sing it, you get a sense of what is being said: ‘Son of God, love’s pure light radiant beams from thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace.’
Grace has several meanings. In this instance, it is the grace that God is offering us – the free and unmerited favour of God. Jesus shines with the unconditional love of God and offers us redeeming grace, the free and unmerited favour of God. We don’t need to do anything to deserve it or earn it; God offers it to us freely. Because we are offered this grace, we are redeemed. That is, we are not left to our own devices. We are not left without guidance or direction in our lives. We are called into active relationship with God by following Jesus. We might not be able to describe grace, but we know it when we see it or feel it. The dawn of redeeming grace that comes with the birth of Jesus offers us a new and intimate experience of God.
As we continued to sing the carol, it was as though I was hearing the all words and their meaning for the first time. When it came to the last verse, describing the shepherds quaking and the angels singing, I was almost bursting with the feeling of God’s presence and grace for me. With the heavenly hosts I sang out a heartfelt “Hallelujah”. This year, I remember why the Saviour was born.