Weihnactslied, Stille Nacht, Silent Night 200 Years Old

Silent Night Four Ways

In 1815, Joseph Mohr (1792–1848) was ordained a priest. Fr Joseph became Assistant Parish Priest for St Nikolas Kirche in Oberndorf, Austria, in 1817. One year prior to this, in 1816, he wrote a poem titled “Weynachts-Lied” which ultimately became “Silent Night” for us English speakers. He wrote it and kept it before traveling from Mariapfarr near Salzburg, his birthplace, to accept the post at St Nikolas.

On Christmas Eve 1818 (200 years ago this coming December) …

Fr Joseph walked about an hour from his home in the Austrian village of Oberndorf (near Salzburg) to visit his friend Franz Xaver Gruber (1787-1863) in the schoolhouse in the nearby town of Arnsdorf. Because the St Nikolas church organ was not playable, Fr Joseph had the idea to bring a poem he had written about two years earlier to give to Gruber so that he might sing it accompanied by his guitar. He did, and “Silent Night! Holy Night!” was first sung and played by them that Christmas Eve in the church.

Rather than repair the damage due to flooding, the church was demolished in the early 1900s, and the current memorial chapel was erected at a higher elevation from the river.

Remember the 200th anniversary of the first performance of “Silent Night” with these fine organ pieces. If your choir or congregations sings it, these would make fine preludes.

Our Silent Night Four Ways

  1. The Holy Night (Noël) by Dudley Buck
  2. The Holy Night by George Vail
  3. Christmas Pastorale by F Flaxington Harker
  4. Silent Night, Holy Night by Rosa Rio

See all of our Holiday music on our Christmas and Year End List.

For much more history and many other images like the one above, visit:
Stille Nacht Gesellschaft and The German Way & More.


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