Silent Night, Holy Night - The History

One of the most famous Christmas carols of all time would have to be 'Silent Night.' Its simple and soothing melody and lyrics have made it popular with young and old around the world. The first line of "Silent night, holy night" is well known, but how well known is the history behind this timeless classic? Let's take a brief look at the creation of the 'Silent Night' song.

The Christmas carol originated in Austria, and was originally written in German, with the title "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht". In 1816, a young priest by the name of Joseph Mohr wrote the German words for the original six stanzas of the carol, while assigned to a pilgrimage church in Mariapfarr, Austria.


On Christmas Eve, 1818, Joseph Mohr journeyed to the home of headmaster Franz Xaver Gruber who lived in an apartment over the schoolhouse in nearby Arnsdorf. Gruber was the church choir director, so Mohr showed him the poem he had written and asked Gruber to add a melody and guitar accompaniment so that it could be sung at Midnight Mass. The 'Silent Night' sheet music and chords were written by Gruber, to be played on guitar, with the lyrics by Mohr.

Silent Night, Holy Night - The History

Later that evening, the two men, backed by the choir, stood in front of the main altar in St. Nicholas Church (Nikolaus-Kirche) in Oberndorf and sang "Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!" for the first time. They could hardly imagine the impact their composition would have on the world.

It wasn't until 1859, that John Freeman Young published the English version of 'Silent Night', which is most commonly sung today. 'Silent Night, Holy Night' has been such a popular song around the world, that it has been translated into over 44 different languages.

More recently, the Christmas carol has been covered by numerous artists, including Enya, Mariah Carey, and Stevie Nicks, to name a few. Why not pay tribute to this timeless classic by singing your own version this Christmas!

Silent Night, Holy Night - The History

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