Sunday, December 17, 2017

Silent Night, Holy Night

Silent Night, Holy Night
By: Joseph Mohr

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, darkness flies, all is light; Shepherds hear the angels sing,
"Alleluia! hail the King! 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.

Silent night, holy night, wondrous star, lend thy light; With the angels let us sing
Alleluia to our King; Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born. 

In 1818, Joseph Mohr arrived in Oberndorf, Austria to take the position of assistant priest at the newly-erected Church of St. Nicholas. He soon made many friends among the local villagers. Franz Gruber, who was the village schoolmaster and church organist, was one of Joseph's favorite acquaintances. They spent much time together, discussing matters of mutual interest, such as education, music, and theology. As Christmas approached that year, the two men realized that no one had yet been able to compose the "perfect Christmas hymn."  Just before Christmas, a group of traveling players arrived in Oberndorf to present a nativity play in the local Catholic church. Since the organ at the Church of St. Nicholas was being repaired and the church could not be used for their performance, a local shop owner graciously opened his home to the players. On the evening of December twenty-third, Joseph Mohr attended the nativity play. As he traveled home after the performance, he stopped at his favorite spot that overlooked the small village of Oberndorf. Moved by the beauty of the night and inspired by the Christmas story, Joseph hurried home and wrote the words of "Silent Night, Holy Night." The next morning, Joseph took his stanzas to Franz Gruber and said, "See if you can wed these words to a melody." After reading the simple verses, Franz replied, "Friend Mohr, you have found it-the right song-God be praised." Since the organ was not going to be repaired in time for Christmas, Franz wrote the music for guitar. In the Christmas Eve service, Franz Gruber sang the bass and played the accompaniment on his guitar, Joseph Mohr sang the tenor part, and a choir of young ladies from the village sang the last two lines of each stanza in four-part harmony. Joseph and Franz had never intended for their Christmas carol to become famous. When Franz Gruber returned to his home in Zillertal, about eight miles away from Oberndorf, he took with him a copy of the song. Soon, it was being included in concerts through Austria and Germany, and was known as a Tyrolean Folk Song of unknown origin. 

"Silent Night" was first published for congregation singing in 1838 in the German hymnbook, Katholisches Gesang-und Gebetbuch für den offentlichen und häuslichen Gottesdienst zunächst zum Gebrauche der katholischen Gereinden im Königreiche Sachsen. (Catholic chant and prayer book for the public and domestic worship initially for the use of the Catholic gereinden the kingdoms of Saxony)
In 1839, "Silent Night, Holy Night" was first performed in the United States by a visiting group of Austrian singers. Before long, it was translated not only into English, but into several other languages as well.  It was used in America by German-speaking congregations, then appeared in its current English form in a book of Sunday school songs in 1863. "Silent Night, Holy Night" has become one of the best-loved Christmas carols of all time. 

I hope each one of you has a very merry Christmas!

Luke 2:10-14
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ashley,
    Thanks for posting this song.
    It is my favorite song this year.
    I love the sign language to it and it just has such beautiful words to it. Part of the reason why it has become my favorite Christmas song is because of a movie Sue Thomas episode Silent Night.


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