Day Eight: 12 Days of Christmas {The Secret of the Bullfinch & Burlap Table Runner}

Check out Day One: Christmas Day in the Morning

Check out Day Two: The Three Trees

Check out Day Three: A Christmas Carol

Check out Day Four: The Gift of the Maji

Check out Day Five: I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Check out Day Six: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Check out Day Seven: The Christmas Envelope

Have you been rocking out to Christmas music all season long? I find myself singing along to just about any music that is on, but I love that most Christmas songs celebrate the birth of the Savior and happy things. This story is a story about one of the most popular Christmas Hymns. Can you guess which one it is before getting to the end of the story?!?!? (Read it below or download it here The Secret of the Bullfinch click the link and then again on the second page to download).

The Secret of the Bullfinch

By Barbara Craig

At a quaint German inn near the Austrian border, the bullfinch perched in its cage in the dining room, where it regularly serenaded customers.
One spring morning in 1854, only one guest sat in the dining room, but he was an impressive personage indeed. His name was Ludwig Eck, the concertmaster of the Berlin Cathedral Choir.
Eck had been enjoying a quiet breakfast, at least, until the bird chirped its song. As the melody filled the air, a bewildered expression covered his face.
“Shall I remove the bird cage?” asked the waiter, who had noticed Eck’s puzzled look.
“No,” said the concertmaster, and in an effort to explain, he continued, “It’s the song the bird is singing. That song has been on my mind for so long, I thought for a moment I was humming it to myself.” Seven years earlier, Eck had been asked by officials of his celebrated choral group to find the composer of the tune.
“The emperor himself has requested that the person who wrote the song be found.” explained the concertmaster. “The song has no name above it in our hymn book, but is has become a great favorite of the emperor. He wants to meet the person who wrote it.”
For seven long years, Eck had searched for the composer of the emperor’s favorite hymn. He had traveled to all corners of Germany and to nearby countries in his quest. He had investigated every rumor and even rumors of rumors about the song. His search had caused him to neglect his work as concertmaster, but he had never yet come close to finding who wrote the tune.
“Where did you get that bird?” Eck asked the waiter. He did not know but offered to check with the owner of the inn. The waiter was gone no more than five minutes, but to Eck it seemed an eternity. The concertmaster impatiently strummed his fingers on the table and ignored the breakfast in front of him. Deep down, he sensed his search would soon be over.
The bullfinch came from a Felix Gruber, a student at St. Peter’s Abbey across the border in Austria, the waiter told Eck when he returned. “Felix trained it to sing the song. Students at the abbey often train birds to sing and then sell them.”
Within the hour, Eck was on his way to the abbey, which was located near Salzburg.
The abbot at St. Peter’s couldn’t believe that one of his students trained the bird. “We have disciplined students for doing such a thing. Here, we feel it is a cruel practice to cage a bird and deprive one of God’s creatures of its freedom.”
Nevertheless, the concertmaster insisted on speaking to Felix Gruber. “I am on my emperor’s business,“ he said.
A few minutes later, the youth, who was about fifteen, stood in the abbot’s office. “Yes sir,” he said with reluctance, eyeing the abbot nervously as he did, “I trained the bullfinch to sing the song.”

“Who taught you the song?”
“My father,” said the youth.
“ And where did he learn it?” Eck asked. The distinguished concertmaster almost leapt for joy when he heard the answer.
“My father,” said the young man with a trace of pride, “wrote the music, and his friend wrote the words.”
Felix was not disciplined for training the bullfinch, even though he had violated the school’s rules. The abbot was in a forgiving mood. After all, it wasn’t ever day he had an emissary of the Emperor of Germany in his office.
The following week, Eck, accompanied by young Gruber, arrived in the village of Hallein, where the student’s father was the organist at the local church.
Franz Gruber acknowledged his part in the creation of the song. “It happened many years ago–on Christmas Eve in 1818, to be exact. At the time I was the organist at St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf. The organ broke down, and for a while it seemed we would not have any music at our Christmas service.
“Father Joseph Mohr, who is dead now, had composed a poem about the birth of Christ. At his request, I put music to the words and preformed it on my guitar at the Christmas mass.
“We never expected to play the song again, but it became quite popular. People began singing it at Christmas in villages all over the Tyrolean Mountains.”
Gruber didn’t realize how far the popularity of their song had spread. “Father Mohr and I knew it was a great favorite where we lived. We were unaware our music had traveled to distant lands.”
The church organist was invited to meet the emperor of Germany. “He’s been waiting a long time to meet the person who created ‘The Song from Heaven,’” Eck said to Gruber.
“‘The Song of Heaven’?” Gruber was puzzled.
“That is what we call your song in Germany,” said the concertmaster. “What do you call your song here?”
“We call it what Father Mohr called it when he wrote his poem,” said Gruber. “‘Silent Night.’”

I wanted to pair this with a fun and easy burlap table runner.


You will need:

  • Burlap
  • Ric rac or ribbon
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Stencil
  • Black paint
  • Paint brushes

First, decide your length and with and cut your burlap with about a half an inch seam allowance on each long side of the burlap. Then trim the edges of the short side so they are even and straight (which is kind of hard due to the nature of burlap, but it’s ok if it isn’t perfect that is what makes it unique).


cutting edgesSecond, pin your ric rac or ribbon across each short  end of the burlap. Then do a straight stitch along each  row of ric rac that you’ve pinned to your burlap.

pinningricracsewingricracNext, pin your edge under on both long sides. Then do a straight stitch on each side.

pinedgesewingedgeNow on the short rough edges. I wanted it to fray a bit so just untangle some of the strands, as many or as little as you want. If you aren’t into the raw edge feel just pin and do another straight stitch.fringingNow it’s time to get messy. I cut out my letters on card stock paper from my Cricut and used them as a stencil. You can use any type of stencil or just free hand it if you think you are up to it. I taped it in place with masking tape. I also held it down with my fingers as I did each letter. I used a sponge brush for most of it, but for the tiny parts of the letters I used a small brush. It makes it easier to get in all the little grooves.

stencilpaintingstencilFor the music notes I just used parts of other letters like the “l” and the “N” and the “g” but left out the circle in the middle. Again you can create your own. That is part of the fun here.

notesAfter it is all painted let it dry and then decorate your table. It is so sweet. I love this burlap look against my black kitchen table.

Runner1runner3 runner4 runner5I am in love and I hope you are too. Thanks for checking me out. I can’t believe we are already on Day 8. Time flies when you are having fun.

Linking up with: Sew Chatty, C.R.A.F.T., The Girl Creative


Hi there!

I’m Emily, a mom and wife with a passion for crafting, celebrating holidays, and creating memorable moments. From Idaho to the world, The Benson Street is a treasure trove of easy, fun DIY projects, delightful printables, and delicious recipes. With over a decade of experience in blogging and a love for all things seasonal, I’m here to share my tips, ideas, and occasional mishaps. Join me in adding a dash of joy and creativity to every day! Read more…

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