SILENT NIGHT written in 1818
In their village, high in the Austrian Alps (think Heidi), a Catholic priest and his organist often talked about the hymns their church sang. They agreed the perfect Christmas hymn had not yet been written. Then, just before Christmas in 1818, the church organ stopped working. A mouse had chewed through one of the ballasts and it would no longer pump as it should. Suddenly, they needed a new hymn that could be easily sung by the congregation, even without a booming organ to lead the way.
Joseph Mohr (1792-1848), the priest, took up the challenge and quickly wrote the words for “Silent Night. He handed those words to Franz Gruber (1787-1863), the organist, who said, “You have found it – the right song – God be praised!” It was a more personal Christmas song than those that had been written before. Gruber wrote a tune that could effectively be played and sung with guitar accompaniment.
But, the hymn might have remained an obscure Alpine folk song if it weren’t for the man who came to repair the organ. A few days after Christmas, he got a copy of the song and began sharing it with others. Soon, touring groups began to sing it in concerts… spreading its popularity even further. Today, it is the favorite Christmas hymn of many.
Read this Christmas hymn, and – today – imagine being a fly on the stable wall… and hearing this song being sung.
Silent night, holy night! All is calm, all is bright
‘round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.
Holy infant, so tender and mild,
sleep in heavenly peace… sleep in heavenly peace
Silent night, holy night! Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar,
heavenly hosts sing, “Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born! Christ the Savior is born!”
Silent night, holy night! Son of God, love’s pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
with dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth… Jesus, Lord at Thy birth.