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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Silent Night! Holy Night!

When this beloved hymn was written by two humble church leaders for their own mountain village parishioners, little did they realize how universal its influence would eventually be.

Joseph Mohr, assistant priest in the Church of St. Nicholas in the region of Tyrol, high in the beautiful Alps, and Franz Gruber, the village schoolmaster and church organist, had often talked about the fact that the perfect Christmas hymn had never been written. So Father Mohr had this goal in mind when he received word that the church organ would not function. He decided that he must write his own Christmas hymn immediately in order to have music for the special Christmas Eve mass. He did not want to disappoint his faithful flock. Upon completing the text, he took his words to Franz Gruber, who exclaimed when he saw them, "Friend Mohr, you have found it-the right song-God be praised!"

Soon Gruber completed his task of composing an appropriate tune for the new text. His simple but beautiful music blended perfectly with the spirit of Father Mohr's words. The carol was completed in time for the Christmas Eve mass, and Father Mohr and Franz Gruber sang their new hymn to the accompaniment of Gruber's guitar. The hymn made a deep impact upon the parishioners even as it has on succeeding generations.

When the organ repairman came to the little village church, he was impressed by a copy of the Christmas carol and decided to spread it all around the region of Tyrol. Today it is sung in all major languages of the world and is a favorite wherever songs of the Christmas message are enjoyed.

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 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 the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth.

Copyright © Kenneth W. Osbeck, used with permission.

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