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Night of Silence

posted Dec 22, 2012, 1:37 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Jan 20, 2013, 8:40 PM ]
Daniel Kantor is often referred to as a classic renaissance man: he an author, composer, musician, graphic designer and business strategist.  One of his many entrepreneurial successes includes Coda Music Software, which launched Finale, the world’s leading music publishing software that creates most sheet music you see today.  He is also one of about 100 crossword puzzle constructors selected by the New York Times to produce their daily puzzles. 

As a musician and composer, he is primarily known for a Christmas/Advent hymn he wrote in 1981 called Night of Silence.  It’s not only its publisher’s biggest selling holiday season sheet music, it’s been broadcast worldwide on PBS and NPR, performed and recorded by some of the world’s finest orchestras, choruses and singers, and made its way into most hymnals, including Breaking Bread for the first time.

If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s embedded with an enchanting surprise – it’s a quodlibet – a Latin term that literally means “what pleases”.  Musically, a quodlibet is a partner song that can be sung simultaneously with another song.  Child of the Poor is another example of a quodlibet; meant to be sung with What Child Is This?

Though it’s often referred to as a Christmas carol, Night of Silence was written for the season of Advent, a time of spiritual emptying, darkness, longing and anticipation.  Kantor explains the text “was inspired in part by the north woods of Wisconsin and the sparkle of freshly fallen snow in the moonlight of a sub-zero winter’s night.”  When it is combined with Silent Night, the effect of the two melodies together bridges the anticipation of Advent with the excitement of Christmas night and what’s to come…

Cold are the people, winter of life, We tremble in shadows this cold endless night,
Frozen in the snow lie roses sleeping, Flowers that will echo the sunrise,
Fire of hope is our only warmth, Weary, its flame will be dying soon...