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.


Posted in Church, Concert, Education/Information | Leave a comment

Mueller’s Copy of Harker’s Two Compositions, Op 52

Mueller’s Copy of Harker’s Two Compositions, Op 52

Sometimes, I am asked (or accused) of using music scanned and downloaded from one of the free sites. First, I need an original to restore. You can’t restore what isn’t there, and many of the online images omit pages, remove colors, and remove ads — some of the most interesting parts!

So, as I have posted before, I am lucky to have a large number of pieces from the library of Carl Mueller. The Two Compositions, Op 52, came from this collection. Here, just for fun, are the images of his cover and the first page of music. You can see the faded colors but the online images are purely black and white. My restoration makes the Christmassy red and green pop again! Then, take a look at his record of performance. You can see another of his logs in my post for Ein’ Feste Burg.

(click an image to enlarge)





You will notice that Mueller’s cover has no green. Later printings saved cost by omitting the green! I sampled the green from a copy at the University of Michigan. You see my restoration below.

By the way, the photo of Mueller at the top is from The Concert Choir of New Jersey website where you can find information on how they began.

Posted in Education/Information | Leave a comment

Wesley C Dudley Dead at Age 85

Wesley C Dudley Dead at Age 85

Below is the obituary for the great patron of the organ who died a few days ago. Pictured above is Mr and Mrs Wesley C Dudley, as you hear it on every episode of Pipe Dreams. Please leave your memories below in the comments.

Posted in Education/Information | Leave a comment

The Race to Repair Chautauqua’s Massey Memorial Organ

The Race to Repair Chautauqua’s Massey Memorial Organ

I haven’t seen much notice about this excellent article from June 22 about what’s going on with the repairs to the organ at Chautauqua, so I’m drawing attention to it here. It was written by Riley Robinson and contains many fascinating photos and a short video. Everyone involved with the organ is making the best from a bad situation.

Repairs to the Massey Organ began in January, after snowmelt damaged the organ’s console. Paul and Mark Fischer, the father and son who reconstructed the organ in 1992, have been racing to finish repairs before the season’s start. “I’m beyond excited,” said Jared  Jacobsen, Chautauqua’s organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music. “I’ve been living and breathing this whole thing for months.”

Posted in Education/Information | Leave a comment

Not Unduly Griegesque

Not Unduly Griegesque

I present a review for your historical enjoyment from 1921. It’s for Joseph Clokey’s “In a Norwegian Village.” The reviewer was not aware of the tune’s being known in Norway and instead tried to create a link with Grieg. Yes, it’s not really much of a review, but something is better than nothing which is mostly what we sadly have today.

The New Music Review and Church Music Review
February 1921
H W Gray Company

Posted in Education/Information | Leave a comment

Closely Resembles a Little Tune from Childhood

“I was instantly captivated by listening to In a Norwegian Village and immediately purchased it. My beloved stepfather was Norwegian and the theme of Clokey’s piece very closely resembles a little tune from childhood that he would sometimes hum. Maybe I can get this piece in shape in time to play it on the Sunday closest to May 17 (Norway’s National Day, like your 4th of July). ” —Canada

Posted in Education/Information | Leave a comment

Norwegian Villagers, WWI Memory, Biltmore’s Organist, & Callaerts Sonata 1

Can you believe it’s August already? For this month’s selections, I have tried to offer a lot of variety. For those who want a challenge, I chose a sonata by a great Belgian organist. For those who want to remember the sadness, casualties, and deaths of “The Great War,” World War I to us, I chose one of the most moving yet approachable pieces by an American organ teacher and composer. There is an atmospheric piece by J W Clokey depicting an old village in Norway. And, I present two pieces by the organist hired by G W Vanderbilt to play the organ at Biltmore.


1. IN A NORWEGIAN VILLAGE by Joseph Clokey. My first selection is Clokey’s Op 11, No 1, from 1920. It’s an atmospheric piece depicting a visit to an old Norwegian (Viking) village.

2. IN MEMORIAM, by Gordon Balch Nevin. I could not find information about exactly the subject of this piece, but I believe it is intended to honor those who died in World War I.

3. TWO COMPOSITIONS, OP 52 by F Flaxington Harker. The first of the two is based on “Silent Night.” It is rarely heard, so if you’re looking for a different treatment for this year, I hope you will take a look.

4. SONATA 1, by Joseph Callaerts. Although this sonata will take work, it is not an impossible task. The Finale is the favorite movement (isn’t it always?), and I present a recording for you to enjoy.

MONTHLY DISCOUNT BUNDLE. To get the four pieces mentioned above, I offer a special price so you can buy all of the pieces above with one click and save money in the deal. I welcome your support, and if you don’t want to play a particular piece in the group, consider giving it to a student or another organist.

I include a couple of recordings of these pieces, but I welcome you to make and share some videos of these so that we all can enjoy them. Thank you all for your interest in this music.


Posted in Church, Concert, Recordings | Leave a comment

Please Put Two Copies Aside for Me

“Please put 2 copies of the final publication (In Memoriam) aside for me; I’ll be ordering them as soon as they are available. And thank you, also, for the wonderful service you provide, bringing long-forgotten musical gems back into print. It’s always a joy to unwrap packages from MMS! Warm regards.” —Pennsylvania, USA

Posted in Customer Service | Leave a comment

Nevin’s Sketches of the City in New Recording

Nevin’s Sketches of the City in New Recording

Gordon Balch Nevin felt strongly that the average person could relate more to program music than to absolute music. This is, of course, not what we were taught in school! Way back in 1918, he wrote that organists had written to him stating a “distinct and emphatic mention of the enjoyment of the audience” for these suites in their programs. David E Lamb has played the entire suite, which isn’t very long, and he recreates the musicality and atmospheric effect of 1917 urban living and the during the dark hours of The Great War. I think from the glowing responses for David on Contrebombarde.com, you can believe that Nevin’s conclusion remains true today.

For a couple of photos, please see my post from 2016.


Posted in Concert, Education/Information | Leave a comment

Howard Savage Recording to Share

Howard Savage Recording to Share

If you love romantic music, if you (like me) enjoy “decadent” organ music that sends the hard-core Neo-Baroquists into fits, if you love musical organ performances that include chimes … then you must hear Steve Schlesing’s performance of Howard Savage’s “Meditation Sentimental” on the Reuter Op 227 samples played on his Hauptwerk installation. It’s not long, and I think it’s incredibly rewarding to listen to. If you don’t know the American organist, Howard Savage, please see my previous post about him.


Posted in Concert, Recordings | Leave a comment