Hymn Stories: Silent Night

Hymn Stories: Silent Night

On the afternoon of Christmas Eve in 1818, in a tiny village high in the Austrian Alps, Joseph Mohr, the local Catholic priest, wrote some appropriate stanzas for the season.  The church pipe organ had given out and could not be repaired in time for that evening, so the church organist, Franz Gruber, wrote a simple tune, setting the words for a tenor, a bass and two guitars.  That very evening, at the midnight service, “Silent Night” was heard for the first time.  The song soon made its way beyond the town of Oberdorf, but anonymously, without mention of composer or poet.  Until the 1850s, neither Gruber nor Mohr, living in their remote village, knew that their song was rapidly becoming the most beloved piece of Christmas music ever written. [Merry Christmas Songbook pg.10]

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