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Story Behind Song… “Silent Night”


The words of Silent Night were written by a Priest called Fr. Joseph Mohr in Mariapfarr, Austria, in 1816 and the music was added in 1818, by his school teacher friend Franz Xaver Gruber, for the Christmas service at St. Nicholas church in Oberndorf, Austria. Mohr's congregation needed something to sing at midnight mass, so Mohr wrote these modest verses.

Unfortunately, the St. Nicholas' church organ wasn't working and would not be repaired before Christmas. Before Christmas Eve, Mohr brought the words to Gruber and asked him to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment for the church service. Gruber was a lay minister and the organist at St. Nicholas. Fr. Mohr asked Franz Gruber to compose the melody with a guitar arrangement.

At Midnight Mass in 1818, Fr. Mohr and Franz Gruber sang each of the six verses with the church choir repeating the last two lines of each verse. Mohr set down the guitar arrangement on paper around 1820 and that is the earliest manuscript that still exists.  Later it was translated into English in 1863 by John Freeman Young.

The original words of the song "Silent night, Holy night" were in German (and it was called 'Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht') and translated in to English went:
 Silent night, holy night,       
 Bethlehem sleeps, yet what light,        
 Floats around the heavenly pair;        
 Songs of angels fills the air.        
 Strains of heavenly peace.


The carol became known throughout the region and, in 1834 the Strassers performed it for King Frederick William IV of Prussia. The king was so taken with the carol that he commanded that his cathedral choir sing it every Christmas and this brought it to the attention of the rest of the world.

Throughout his life Fr. Mohr remained a humble priest. He always described his collaboration with Franz Gruber to produce "Silent Night" that December 24th as one of the best times in his life. Today Fr. Joseph Mohr's lovely carol is being sung and enjoyed throughout the world till date...

Praise the Lord...

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