Silent Night is without a doubt the most beloved Christmas Carol of all time.  The church my in-laws go to sing it by candlelight every Christmas Eve.  It’s truly a special moment every year.

Did you know the song didn’t originate in the US?  Actually, a young Catholic priest, Father Joseph Mohr wrote a poem called Stille Nacht in his father’s hometown in 1816.  On Christmas Eve in 1818, he brought the words to Franz Xaver Gruber, a schoolmaster and organist, and asked him to write a melody and guitar accompaniment to his poem for that night’s mass. 

An organ builder, Karl Maurarcher, serviced that church’s organ and loved the song so much that he took the song home with him.  He showed it to two travelling families of folk singers who started singing it in their concerts.  

The Rainers sang it Christmas 1819 and sang it once for an audience that contained Franz I of Austria and Alexander I of Russia.  They were the ones to sing it first in the US in 1839 in New York City.  The song was well known inLower Saxony and reportedly to be Frederick William IV of Prussia’s favorite song.  The melody  was altered slightly to the version we know today.

As I said, it’s the most beloved Christmas carol.  For me personally, it’s a vivid reminder of Jesus’ birth.  It puts the event in perspective, because His birth, according to God’s plan, is the foundation of Salvation as we know it.  We will revisit this thought next week.

305 Replies to “Stories Behind the Christmas Songs: Silent Night”

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