“Silent Night”: the Secret Story Behind Most Famous Christmas Carol

One of the world’s best-known Christmas carols was composed by an Austrian priest in the year 1818, and is sung in more than 50 different languages.

Newsroom (24/12/2021 6:00 PM, Gaudium Press) “The world seemed to be waiting for the Stille Nacht” once commented Doctor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. And really, for those who have some sensibility in these chaotic days we live in, it is enough to hear the first notes of the music and know the blessing of Christmas Eve is present.

Who composed the lyrics of the Christmas song “Silent Night”?

It was born from the hearts of two men. One of them was Father Joseph Mohr, whom we can imagine in the small Austrian village of Obendorf, in the year 1818, preparing his sermon for Midnight Mass. While he was immersed in reading the Sacred Scriptures and giving them his full attention, a peasant woman knocked at his door, asking him to go and baptize the newborn baby of a woodcutter.

The priest got dressed – it was the middle of winter, snow covering everything – and accompanied the good woman. On the way, he remained absorbed, thinking about the homily he was going to preach, but when he arrived at the humble hut, the scene he saw made a deep impression on him. Bathed in dim light and warmed by a weak fireplace, a simple bed welcomed the young mother with the newborn sweetly and serenely asleep in her arms, waiting to be baptized.

How peaceful! How much innocence! How much presence of the supernatural there was in that simple scene so evocative of the day: Christmas.

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On his way back, a poem flowed with extreme ease from his pen describing the feelings that cradled his soul in the poor shack. It was written ‘Stille Nacht’ (‘Happy Night’ in German)!

The melody of “Silent Night” was composed by Franz Gruber

The next morning, Father Mohr went to the home of his good friend Franz Gruber, a music teacher and organist, and showed him the lines he had written. Gruber was enchanted by the poem and, inspired by its Christmas beauty, soon composed a melody for it.

The music enchanted the world! Today it is sung in about 50 different languages. And each of them carries the same Christmas atmosphere.

Compiled by Camille Mittermeier

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