Sister Sharon Eubank: ‘Silent Night, Love’s Pure Light’

First counselor in the Relief Society general presidency

When Sister Sharon Eubank was 6 years old, the music chorister in her Primary, Sister Beverly Whitley, taught the children a song from the adult hymnbook. Sister Whitley told the children that “she knew we were mature enough musicians to be able to memorize the difficult words,” recalled Sister Eubank, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, during the First Presidency’s Christmas devotional on Dec. 2.

Sister Whitley taught the children what all the words meant and promised them that if they thought about the words, they would find the message that was especially meant for their own lives. That Christmas, 6-year-old Sharon dutifully tried to apply what Sister Whitley had taught her as she learned the verses to “Silent Night.”

Sister Eubank said that as a 6-year-old, she thought hard about the words in the third verse — but didn’t understand the punctuation.

“Instead of singing ‘Son of God, Love’s pure light’ — as in Jesus was the expression of the light that flows from pure love — I understood it to say that the Son of God loves pure light. He adores anything made from pure light.”

Thinking about her beloved Primary chorister, she tried to figure out how she too could "love pure light" like Jesus.

Three years later, when she was 9 years old, Sister Eubank was asked to play “Silent Night” during sacrament meeting on Christmas Eve. “My parents listened to me play literally 100 times on our black upright piano that was in our basement,” Sister Eubank said.

Too nervous to memorize the music, 9-year-old Sharon decided to lay the music on her lap instead of on the piano so that it would appear that she had memorized the song. Unfortunately, half way through the first verse, the music slipped off her taffeta Christmas skirt.

“I painfully plunked wrong notes and made cringing mistakes in the tune until I blundered through the second verse. I wisely omitted the third verse and rushed down the aisle with a red face, trying not to cry,” Sister Eubank said.

At the end of the meeting, Sister Eubank’s Sunday School teacher, Sister Alma Heaton, took her hand and told her, “Sharon, it doesn’t matter how it turned out. Everyone could see how much effort you put into it, and we love you whether you can play the piano or not.”

Beverley Whitley and Alma Heaton did nothing extraordinary, Sister Eubank said. “They didn’t write anything down in their journals that night. … They were simply teaching little children how to sing and how to understand the gospel. What could be more mundane? Except is wasn’t. If you ask me what it looks like when a person ‘loves pure light’ — it looks like Beverly Whitley. It looks like Alma Heaton. Each of them could recognize the ‘pure light’ of a little child trying as hard as she could and love her for it, even if it didn’t work out perfectly.”

Heavenly Father does the same, Sister Eubank said.

“He sees us — His little children — trying. Our efforts don’t always succeed, but He knows how hard we are working — and sometimes gritting our teeth and plunking through a disaster — and He loves us for it. For all of our dissonant, out of tune, unrecognizable music He sent His beautiful Only Begotten Son who is Love’s pure light.

"Jesus Christ will repair every bad note and redeem every sour overtone if we turn to Him and ask for His help," she added. "Because of the birth, and the Atonement and the death of Jesus Christ, we can all sleep in heavenly peace.”