Silent Night – Origin of Much-Loved Hymn

Silent Night – Origin of Much-Loved Hymn

It is Christmas Eve in a small village near the Austrian city of Salzburg, and the tower of the small church of the village dominates the snow-laden houses of the town like a hen protecting its chicks.

In the presbytery, young Fr. Josef Mohr, twenty-six years old, is reviewing the Gospel in preparation for that night’s ceremonies when a knock at the door breaks the silence. It is a peasant woman who asks the parish priest to help a baby that has just been born.

Without delaying, the priest leaves the comfort of his home and, after a hard climb up the mountain, arrives at the humble abode where the child has been born. Upon his return the stars shine in the heavens reflecting their light on the whiteness of the snow.

He begins to reflect on the scene he has just witnessed. The child, the peasant couple, and their humble home, have all impressed him. They remind him of another child, another couple, another humble dwelling in Bethlehem of Judah.

After midnight Mass Fr. Mohr is unable to sleep. He takes pen and paper and begins to write a poem that will become the lyrics to the song ‘Silent Night’.

The next morning, Christmas Day 1818, the pious priest looks for a friend of his called Franz Gruber, then 31-years-old. After reading the poem, Gruber exclaims: ‘Father, this is exactly the Christmas song that we needed! Praised be to God!’ And that very day he composes the music to go with the words.