Great Songs of the Church-Silent Night

I had mentioned some time ago that I wanted to do a series on great hymns as part of our Musical Monday. Well, I realize it is Wednesday night….but still…..

We’ll begin our series with a selection of favorite Christmas hymns. Lord willing, we will look at one a week.

Our very first Christmas hymn may be the most well-known and loved: Silent Night.

Though there are various tales surrounding the history of this hymn, I am going to share with you what Wikepedia and In Mozart’s Footsteps report.

In a small Austrian village named Oberndorf, Silent Night was written as a poem in 1816 by Joseph Mohr. On Christmas Eve 1818 he presented it to Franz Gruber to set it to music.  They performed the hymn that very same night-at St. Nicholas Church-with Mohr and Gruber singing the melody, joined by the choir and Mohr accompanying on solo guitar.  It is unknown why Mohr originally wrote the poem.

original_church_oberndorf-212x300 Picture of St. Nicholas Church where it was first performed. Photo provided by In Mozart’s Footsteps.

Here are the original lyrics, as provided by Visit

Silent night! Holy night!
All′s asleep, one sole light,
Just the faithful and holy pair,
Lovely boy-child with curly hair,
Sleep in heavenly peace!
Sleep in heavenly peace!

Silent night! Holy night!
God′s Son laughs, o how bright.
Love from your holy lips shines clear,
As the dawn of salvation draws near,
Jesus, Lord, with your birth!
Jesus, Lord, with your birth!

Silent night! Holy night!
Brought the world peace tonight,
From the heavens′ golden height
Shows the grace of His holy might
Jesus, as man on this earth!
Jesus, as man on this earth!

Silent night! holy night!
Where today all the might
Of His fatherly love us graced
And then Jesus, as brother embraced.
All the peoples on earth!
All the peoples on earth!

Silent night! Holy night!
Long we hoped that He might,
As our Lord, free us of wrath,
Since times of our fathers He hath
Promised to spare all mankind!
Promised to spare all mankind!

Silent night! Holy night!
Sheperds first see the sight.
Told by angelic Alleluja,
Sounding everywhere, both near and far:
“Christ the Savior is here!”
“Christ the Savior is here!”

They are a bit different from what we are used to singing, which is even different from the lyrics recorded in my church’s hymnal.

Metrolyrics provides the lyrics we are most familiar with, but has the words being written by Andrew O Callaghan.

My church hymnal has even different lyrics, but accredits them to Mohr and Gruber.

So, it seems I chose a doosy of a hymn to begin this series! Regardless of it’s origins, Silent Night remains one of the most beloved Christmas carols of our time.

Here is a version by Pentatonix (whom you simply MUST check out if you have never heard of them!)

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