Friday, December 21, 2012

Stille Nacht

I often remind myself that though we are different in many ways, we are one family sharing a belief in a greater goodness.

Johannes Van Husum and his wife Volkie, spoke either Dutch or German. They came from the Cimbrian Peninsula, now called Jutland, an area inhabited by the ancient tribes of Cimbri and Jutes. Johannes lived in the coastal town of Husum. It is for this reason, that the name Van Huss and Van Hoesen and all the other variations owes its existance. Volkie Van Nordstrand grew up on the adjacent island of Nordstrand.

Tragedies are both devastating and uplifting. They define the human spirit, for no matter how deep and difficult the loss, it is the human spirit to rise above difficulties and persevere. So it was on the night of October 11, 1634, when a devastating flood swept over the island of Nordstrand and much of the coast, killing thousands and rendering many thousands more homeless as winter approached.

The story of  the flood and its aftermath is best told by Cor Snabel.

But what Cor Snabel doesn't tell us is that a young Volkie and her sister survived the storm, even though they lost their parents. Volkie and Jan would meet, move to Amsterdam. They fell in love, married and set sail to the New World two years later.

The German language and its Dutch variation lingered on in America for well over two centuries. And it is known that many of the descendants of Jan and Volkie spoke German in their homes. This was true at least until the lives of  Valentine Van Huss and his son Mathias, who lived in Tennessee. This became known when a modern descendent discovered hidden in a barn two religious books written in German.

It is to Valentine and Mathias, to Jan and Volkie and to all those who have suffered tragedy in life that I dedicated this beautiful rendition of Silent Night in the original German.

May you know the peace of God's mercy.


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