Happy birthday „Silent Night“! The world’s most sung Christmas carol is 200 years old

On 24th December 1818, Joseph Mohr and Franz Xaver Gruber sang Silent Night in Oberndorf near Salzburg for the first time. The poem was written by Mohr, a young pastor from Salzburg, and the melody was composed by the teacher and organist Gruber from Upper Austria.

The Salzburg-born Joseph Mohr wrote the touching poem as a young assistant priest in Mariapfarr in Salzburg’s Lungau region in 1816. Two years later he met the teacher Franz Xaver Gruber in Oberndorf and asked him to compose a melody for the poem. On December 24, 1818 Silent Night was first performed by the two in Oberndorf’s St. Nikola church. To honour this place, a commemorative chapel was built, on the site of the former St. Nikola church, which was inaugurated in 1937. Every year on 24 December at 5 p.m., a commemoration ceremony in honour of the song creators takes place in front of the Gruber-Mohr Monument.

Silent Night is the most famous of all Christmas carols, having travelled the world ever since originating in Austria in 1818. Today, Silent Night is known in over 300 languages and dialects, and its reputation as an international peace message has been cemented by its inclusion within UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

The 200 year anniversary will be celebrated in the thirteen Silent Night locations across Salzburg, Tyrol and Upper Austria with museum openings, special exhibitions, a new stage play and numerous events. Even today, many myths are in circulation, such as the one, that it was composed by Michael Haydn, or that it is an American folk song.

This Christmas, when maybe you and your family are singing the song standing in front of your Christmas tree, be aware that you are also celebrating an anniversary, and that millions of people all over the world are joining you!
Silent Night

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

Stille Nacht
Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Hirten erst kundgemacht
Durch der Engel Halleluja,
Tönt es laut von fern und nah:
Christ, der Retter ist da!
Christ, der Retter ist da!

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht
Lieb‘ aus deinem göttlichen Mund,
Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund‘.
Christ, in deiner Geburt!
Christ, in deiner Geburt!