[/column][column width=”nine” place=”last][headline]Title[/headline]”Silent Night” is one of the more popular Christmas carols to be played each year. The original lyrics of the song was actually written in German and entitled “Stille Nacht”. “Stille Nacht” was initially written in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, which is a town in the Austrian state of Salzburg, by a priest named Father Joseph Mohr. The melody was composed by the Austrian headmaster, Franz Xaver Gruber. This Christmas carol was first performed at the Church of St. Nicholas in Oberndorf, Austria on Christmas day 1818.
In 1859, John Freeman Young published the English version of the song, which is also the one that is most frequently sung today. Apart from the translation, there is also a slight change from the original melody composed by Franz Gruber. Gruber’s version was more to a sprightly, dance-like tune in 6/8 time, unlike the meditative lullaby version that is commonly sung today.
[headline]Author[/headline]Joseph (or Josef) Franz Mohr was born in Salzberg on December 11, 1792. He was ordained as a priest in 1815. After which, he was sent to a pilgrim church in the remote Alpine village of Mariapfarr. During his time there in 1816, he wrote a six-stanza poem that was to become one of the world’s most popular Christmas carol. Joseph only moved to Oberndorf in 1817 for two years, when Franz Gruber agreed to compose songs in churches in the Salzburg Diocese and when folk singers from the Ziller Valley decided to take the song on tours around Europe.
Franz Xaver Gruber was an Austrian primary school teacher and church organist from the village of Arnsdorf. During the same period, he was also an organist and choirmaster at St Nicholas Church in his neighboring village, known as Oberndorf bei Salzburg. On the Christmas Eve of 1818, Joseph Mohr approached Franz Gruber to show him a six-stanza poem that he had written in 1816 and requested him to set the poem to music. As the church organ wasn’t functioning at that time, Franz Gruber decided to produce the melody with a guitar arrangement. The two men then sang “Stille Nacht” for the very first time during the Christmas Mass in St Nicholas Church.
[headline]Interesting Fact[/headline]In 1995, a manuscript that was written by hand by Joseph Mohr was recovered. The manuscript is believed to be dated all the way back to 1820. It also revealed that the lyrics were first written in 1816 by Joseph Mohr, but the music was only composed two years later by Franz Gruber.
[headline]Lyrics[/headline]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
Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute heilige Paar.