Following Jesus

discipleship • the inner life • prayer
community of goods • faith • repentance

Following Jesus

We All Need Grace: The Story of the Angel Who Couldn’t Praise God

December 13, 2018 by

Another letter to Kiera from our blogger Eva. This letter is part of a series.

Dear Kiera,

Christmas is only a few weeks away! Are you working on a Christmas program in school?

I must have been in fourth or fifth grade when my teacher announced that our class would start rehearsing a Christmas musical called “Hallelu-nein,” based on a story by Marie Berg.

“What does hallelu-nein mean?” my friend Paul asked.

“Well, the story comes from Germany,” our teacher said, “where ‘nein’ means ‘no.’ Listen up and I’ll read it to you.”

The story began with a host of angels on the heavenly stairway singing “hallelujah.” Did you know that hallelujah means praise to the Lord? But there was one voice that was singing something different. Looking around, the archangel Michael discovered a little redhead shouting “hallelu-nein!” which means “I will not praise the Lord!”

I badly wanted to play the role of this rebel angel called Purzel, which means “somersault” in German. When my teacher finished reading, I raised my hand. “Can I be Purzel?”

“We’ll have to see,” the teacher smiled.

A week later, our teacher assigned us roles and handed us our lines to memorize. All of us were eager to find out which character we would play. Would I be Purzel? My excitement drained away when I learned that the part had gone to my best friend Gina.

Gina was caught off guard. “Me?” she asked in surprise.

“Yes, you,” the teacher said. “You’ll have lots of lines to learn, but you will manage. And we’ll have to spray your hair red.”

“Gosh,” Gina said. “I hope my mom won’t mind.”

“C’mon, Gina,” Mary said. “You can wash it out afterwards. I bet they chose you because there’s no redhead in our class. I mean, your hair is practically white.”

Mary was right. Gina had short, very blond hair and large blue eyes. Perfect pick. Oh well.

As Christmas drew closer, I noticed that while the rest of us kids had fun making tree decorations and presents, Gina was trying to memorize hundreds of lines. She spent hours rehearsing while we played in the snow. I suddenly wasn’t so envious anymore!

Bruderhof kids dressed as angelsHallelu-nein musical performed in 2017 by New Meadow Run School

On the night of our production the hall was packed with our families and friends. When Gina came on stage, Clara, who was perched next to me on heaven’s stairway, whispered, “Wow, I wonder if her parents will recognize her.” With her short red hair, halo tipped jauntily to one side, I hardly knew who she was!

While the rest of us angels launched into our hallelujahs, Purzel mouthed off to the archangel Michael and was promptly escorted from heaven by the angel Gabriel.

Purzel found himself here on earth, and at first, he thought it was a fun adventure. But then he got into trouble. And he got lonely. You might say it was all his fault, but I’ll admit that I felt sorry for him. I wanted so bad for him to be able to sing hallelujah again with all his friends in heaven.

I think Purzel had to decide for the good – each of us needs to decide, right? But in a way he was stuck and needed the grace of God. That’s a bit like, say you got an A on a test, but later the teacher found out you’d cheated and said, “Kiera, you know it was dishonest to cheat, but I’ll let it go this time.” I bet you’d be relieved and happy! And the grace of God is even bigger than that.

Did Purzel sing “hallelu-nein” forever, or did he learn to sing hallelujah again? You can find out by reading the whole story in this book, Behold That Star, which I’m sending you for Christmas.

I bet you’re counting the days until Christmas,

Your pen pal,


Read the story “Hallelu-nein” by Marie Berg here.


About the author

Eva Hormann portrait

Eva Hormann

Eva and her husband, Hans-Peter, live at Beech Grove, a Bruderhof in England.

Read Biography
View All Authors

What is the Voices Blog?

Voices is a blog by Bruderhof members, covering topics important to us and to you.

What is the Bruderhof? We're an intentional Christian community with locations worldwide. We try to love our neighbor and share everything, so that peace and justice become a reality.

Find out more about the Bruderhof.

Get Involved

with the Bruderhof.


to receive the free Voices Blog weekly email.

Recommended Readings

View All

You Might Also Like

View All Articles
View All Articles

Share your thoughts

Please fill in the form below to share your thoughts. *Comments are moderated.