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Silent Night: the story behind the famous Christmas carol

Silent Night: the story behind the famous Christmas Carol

Silent Night is a world-famous Christian Carol which was first heard by Austrian villagers attending Christmas Eve Mass in the Church of St. Nicholas in Oberndorf.
It is a beloved hymn of peace which is played worldwide at Christmas Eve Mass and it is about a calm and bright silent night of December, during which Jesus was born. 

Let’s discover more about the story of this beloved Christmas Carol and how it spread worldwide over the years.

1. The story of Silent Night

This world-famous Christmas Carol was first played in 1818 in Austria and its lyrics were written in 1816 by a young Austrian priest, named Joseph Mohr.
The story said that the priest who wrote its lyrics got inspired by watching a very quiet winter-laden town which was completely at peace.
In 1818, the priest Joseph Mohr played the guitar and sang along with Franz Xaver Gruber this Christmas Carol that originally was titled Stille Nacht Heilige Nacht.
While Joseph Mohr wrote the lyrics, Franz Gruber, who was the choir director, wrote the melody.
But how did it become famous all over the world?

Silent Night lyrics

2. How did this Christmas Carol become famous?

A repairman who was working at the church of Joseph Mohr, took a copy of this Christmas Carol to his home village, where it was picked up and spread by two families of traveling folk singers who performed around northern Europe.
After 16 years, in 1834, the Strasser family performed this Carol for the King of Prussia and 5 years later, in 1839, the Rainer family played and sang it outside Trinity Church in New York City, bringing Silent Night overseas.

3. Silent Night over the years

After these performances, the composition of Silent Night evolved many times over the years and was translated into over 300 languages with many different arrangements. It was sung in churches, in town squares, even on battlefields during World War I, when, during a temporary truce on Christmas Eve, soldiers sang carols from their homeland.
Christmas Eve, in fact, was one of the few occasions during which battles were suspended.
It quickly spread all over the world and became very popular among Christians. Since the original manuscript of the Carol was lost, for decades, many people speculated that the music had been written by Mozart or Beethoven.
The original manuscript was found in 1994, and it reported Mohr's handwriting and Gruber named as composer
While the original version of Silent Night counted with six verses, its English version is usually sung in three verses, which correspond to the original 1, 6 and 2.

Here are the lyrics of the English version of this beloved Christmas Carol.

4. Silent Night lyrics - English version

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 the dawn of redeeming grace.  Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.

We guess you really like this world-famous song because it makes you think about the most beautiful time of the year, which is Christmas, isn’t it?
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Related articles:

3 tips for a peaceful Christmas→
5 meaningful prayers for Christmas→

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