Silent Night

Silent Night is one of the world’s most popular Christmas carols. Every year it is sung in many different languages across the world evoking the spirit of Christmas. Popularly it is said that the carol was composed in one night, to be accompanied by a guitar, because the mice had eaten the organ bellows! But what is the real history of this carol?

The carol ‘Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht’ was first heard in St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf on Christmas Eve 1818. The congregation at Midnight Mass listened as the assistant pastor, Father Joseph Mohr, and choir director, Franz Gruber, sang to the accompaniment of Father Mohr’s guitar. The priest had composed the words two years earlier in 1816 as a six verse poem.

Since then this Christmas carol has achieved world wide appeal and has been translated into over 40 languages including English. It has been sung on a variety of occasions and in some unexpected places. On Christmas Day 1918, during the First World War, German and Allied armies faced one another in France. The song was sung simultaneously in French, English and German by the troops during a Christmas truce, as it was one of the few carols that soldiers on both sides of the front line knew.

So what is the reason for the enduring popularity of this carol? The simple words and tune communicate the heart of the Christmas message. The eternal God has made himself known, by entering time and space, in the person of Jesus Christ. The baby in the manager is not just fully divine, but he is born as a real human being. Jesus comes as a Saviour to rescue us from the mess of our lives, so that we might share the life which Jesus has with his Father. Now there is something worth singing about!!

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
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night
Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heav’nly hosts sing Alleluia
Christ the Saviour is born
Christ the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love’s pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth