Wednesday, December 11, 2013

silent night

I can't remember a time when I didn't know this carol, I must have learned it very young, may-be from TV, we were the first family on our street to have one, but more likely from the radio, or listening to my Mother sing it.   I can remember that I didn't know what most of the words meant.


The story of how and why  Silent Night was written captivated me.  Each day on my way to school I walked past several churches, a Gothic revival Roman Catholic church, an ultra modern Lutheran church, a mighty stone fortress that was really a Methodist church, all beautifully kept and looking like something out a travel guide.   Nearly Christmas one  year  our teacher told us about the origins of Silent Night, how a pastor in Austria was preparing for Chrismas Eve services when he noticed that the organ wouldn't play, and as he had suspected, mice had eaten the goatskin bellows.  So he took out his guitar and began to write words to go with an old folk tune.  His parishioners loved the song.
I couldn't image that mice would ever dare to go in those  impressive buildings I passed on my way to school,  But I liked the story. 
The only surviving autograph of the song by Joseph Mohr


Christmas Eve 1818. In 1818 the carol "Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht" was heard for the first time in a village church in Oberndorf, Austria. The congregation at that Midnight Mass in St. Nicholas Church listened as the voices of the assistant pastor, Father Joseph Mohr, and the choir director, Franz Xaver Gruber, rang through the church to the accompaniment of Father Mohr's guitar. On each of the six verses, the choir repeated the last two lines in four-part harmony. On that Christmas Eve, a song was born that would wing its way into the hearts of people throughout the world. Now translated into hundreds of languages, it is sung by untold millions every December from small chapels in the Andes to great cathedrals in Antwerp and Rome.
2Though meant for a performance in a church Silent Night was composed for guitar. That is rather unusual for those days. Joseph Mohr's guitar (right) still can be seen at Hallein's Franz Gruber Museum

~~~authored by Bill Egan

There have been many stories written  and told about the origins of Silent Night, however the Christmas  historian Bill Egan  contends most are just that, stories.  Simply put Fr. Joseph Mohr had written a poem in 1816 and  he prevailed upon his church organist  Franz Xaver Gruber to set it to music which could be accompanied by guitar for Midnight Mass.  In the past 200 years Silent Night has been translated to over 300 languages, there are many many arrangements, also  some changes to the music and lyrics. 
To those who say German isn't a musical language, I suggest that they listen to "Silent Night"  sung in German. 

1. Silent night! Holy night!
All's asleep, one sole light, Just the faithful and holy pair, Lovely boy-child with curly hair, Sleep in heavenly peace! Sleep in heavenly peace!
2. Silent night! Holy night! God's Son laughs, o how bright. Love from your holy lips shines clear, As the dawn of salvation draws near, Jesus, Lord, with your birth! Jesus, Lord, with your birth!
3. Silent night! Holy night! Brought the world peace tonight, From the heavens' golden height Shows the grace of His holy might Jesus, as man on this earth! Jesus, as man on this earth!
4. Silent night! holy night! Where today all the might Of His fatherly love us graced And then Jesus, as brother embraced. All the peoples on earth! All the peoples on earth!
5. Silent night! Holy night! Long we hoped that He might, As our Lord, free us of wrath, Since times of our fathers He hath Promised to spare all mankind! Promised to spare all mankind!
6. Silent night! Holy night! Sheperds first see the sight. Told by angelic Alleluja, Sounding everywhere, both near and far: "Christ the Savior is here!" "Christ the Savior is here!"

~~  written by Joseph Mohr in 1816

for more information and a web cam view of the Christmas Eve performance please follow this link.

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Motherless kittens out looking for adventure, but finding a meal