Christmas: Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!

There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. (Luke 2:8)

Only surviving autographed copy of the Mohr-Gruber collaboration of "Silent Night" dates from 1821.

Only surviving autographed copy of the Mohr-Gruber collaboration of “Silent Night” dates from 1821.

In 1816, Joseph Mohr penned the poem that would make him famous around the world.

Two years later, on December 24th, 1818, Mohr, a priest at the newly established parish of St. Nicholas in Oberndorf, Austria, gave the poem to organist, Franz Gruber. Mohr asked him to write a melody for two solo voices together with accompaniment by guitar.

Later that day Gruber gave Mohr his composition. The priest liked what he saw and included it as part of the Christmas mass that evening. Mohr sang tenor, with guitar accompaniment, while Gruber sang bass. According to Gruber, the song was met with “general approval by all” in attendance (mostly shipping laborers, boat builders and their families).

By 1955 Silent Night had become the most recorded song in all history.

The literal translation may surprise you.

Silent night, holy night!
All are asleep; alone awake
only the faithful and most holy pair,
Gentle boy with curly hair,
sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent Night as sung by Kelly Clarkson, Trisha Yearwood, and Reba McEntire.