It had been a ‘Silent Night’ indeed when this beloved song was first composed. If not for a broken pipe organ, the world likely might have been without its most popular Christmas carol. Perhaps it was that very silence that inspired the Reverend Joseph Mohr to pen those now-famous words in 1818. At that time, it was likely sheer desperation as opposed to inspiration that motivated him.
As Father Mohr prepared for Christmas Eve Mass in his church in the small Austrian village of Oberndorf, someone found that the church’s ancient organ was from commission. With only a few days to visit and also the nearest repairman several days journey away, it appeared as if Mass would have to commence without musical accompaniment.
Feeling thwarted in his efforts to plan an unforgettable Christmas, Fr. Mohr set about to manufacture another plan. This is in the middle of all of his regular parish duties, including the blessing of the newborn infant. About this particular call, Fr. Mohr was suddenly struck from the words to what is currently known as “Silent Night,” or “Stille Nacht” within his native tongue. Quickly, in order not to lose the lines that were rapidly filling his brain, he finished his call and raced home. Here he penned four stanzas, the initial in which reads in English:
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.
As he had set his words to parchment, he called upon his colleague, Franz Gruber, the musician who trained the parish choir. He was able to finagle from him the fact that, in addition to his organ prowess, Gruber was a guitar player. Gruber emphatically informed him, however, that his guitar skills were under proficient. Undeterred, Mohr presented the phrase to his new poem to Gruber. Rounding up a dusty, little-used guitar, the two men composed the song that could provide music for Oberndorf’s Christmas Mass.
It was unlikely during the time that either Mohr or Gruber had any inkling of the impact they could have on history. In reality, the song disappeared into near obscurity for a decade. It absolutely was then that #1 Silent Night Lyrics – Amazing!! fell to the hands from the Strasser group of Zillertal Valley.
The four young, musically-trained Strasser children spent many an hour or so drumming up business for his or her parents’ glove-making business by singing before the shop. In a manner not unlike a contemporary talent agent discovering some secret talent inside the unlikeliest of places, “Silent Night” was introduced to the Strassers. Rearranged from two-part to four-part harmony, the Strasser children were catapulted to instant renown with their rendition. Valley residents renamed it “The Song From Heaven,” since the Strasser children sounded a great deal such as a choir of angels when they performed it. They sang so beautifully, in fact, the Strassers were invited to do it before kings and queens.
The Nativity Story is remarkable in its use of music, which includes traditional tunes in the season including Veni Emmanuel, Carol from the Bells, and Silent Night–some choral plus some instrumental–introduced in a tasteful, tjuotf way, and combined with an authentic score with by Mychael Danna which has a distinctly middle-eastern flavor. You may want to read Jonathan Broxton’s more descriptive report on the film’s music.
It could have been a king who placed “Silent Night” indelibly on the lips of Christendom. King Frederick William IV of Prussia heard it sung some 22 years following the Strasser children began performing “The Song from Heaven.” Afterward, he declared that it ought to “get first spot in all future Christmas concerts” within the domain of his rule. Whether or not it really was or not isn’t certain. Precisely what is certain is the fact “Silent Night” breached King Frederick’s bounds to be loved around the world.