SILENT NIGHT! HOLY NIGHT!
Joseph Mohr, 1792–1848
English translation by John F. Young, 1820–1885
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you: He is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11)
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.
For Today: Matthew 2:9, 10; Luke 1:77–79; Luke 2:7–20
Allow the peaceful strains of this carol to help you worship in awe with the shepherds and sing alleluia with the angels for God’s “redeeming grace”—
Osbeck, K. W.
- So when they had heard the king, they departed: and lo, the star which they had seen in the East, went before them, till it came and stood over the place where the babe was. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with an exceeding great joy. Matthew 2:9-10
- And to give knowledge of salvation unto his people, by the remission of their sins. Through the tender mercy of our God, whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, Luke 1:77–79
- And she brought forth her first begotten son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a cratch, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds, abiding in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock. And lo, the Angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone about them, and they were sore afraid the Angel said unto them, Be not afraid: for behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people, That is, that unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign to you, Ye shal find the babe swaddled, and laid in a cratch. And straightway there was with the Angel a multitude of heavenly soldiers, praising God, and saying, Glory be to God in the high heavens, and peace in earth, and toward men good will. And it came to pass when the Angels were gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said one to another, Let us go then unto Bethlehem, and see this thing that is come to pass, which the Lord hath showed unto us. So they came with haste, and found both Mary and Joseph and the babe laid in the cratch. And when they had seen it, they published abroad the thing that was told them of that child. And all that heard it, wondered at the things which were told them of the shepherds. But Mary kept all those sayings, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned glorifying and praising God, for all that they had heard and seen, as it was spoken unto them. Luke 2:7–20