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Silent Night - the History and Lyrics

The Christmas season has been celebrated in song throughout the ages. Silent Night is one of the most recognizable Christmas hymns. The beloved hymn is a collaboration between Josef Mohr, an Austrian priest, who wrote the lyrics in 1816 in Mariapfarr, Austria and it was set to music on Christmas Eve in 1818 by his friend and associate Franz Xaver Gruber at St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf, Austria.

While the legendary story claims the tune was written for the guitar due to a malfunctioning of the church organ, a first hand, written account by Franz Xaver Gruber states that Mohr requested a melody to be sung in two part harmony accompanied by guitar. The song was first rendered the same night the melody was composed by the two composers backed by the choir at the St. Nicholas Church Christmas Midnight services. During the performance, Mohr sang tenor and played guitar while Gruber harmonized in bass. The original script hand written by Josef Mohr was discovered and authenticated in 1995.

The song moved from it's humble beginnings in Austria by troubadour families from Austria's Ziller Valley who added it to a collection of Tyrolean Folk Songs. It is believed that the beloved Christmas hymn was first sung by a family named Rainers in the year 1839 at the Alexander Hamilton Monument outside Trinity Church in New York City. The song, 1st penned in German, has been translated to more than 300 languages and dialects.

At the end of the 19th century, St. Nicholas Church was destroyed by floods. The Silent Night Memorial Chapel was consecrated on August 15, 1937, after 13 years of construction and sits directly on the footprint of St. Nicholas Church. Annually thousands of visitors search for the blessings of this historic site. A memorial service
held each year on Christmas Eve includes the rendering of the beautiful hymn with the voices of hundreds of language translations.

Here are the lyrics of the most popular version of this beautiful hymn.

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
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia,
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born.

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

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