By Warren Coe
I enjoy singing hymns especially at this time of the year. “Oh, Holy Night”, “Angels We have heard on High” and “Joy to the World” put me in the right frame of mind for Christmas.
Perhaps my favorite is “Silent Night! Holy Night!” The lyrics capture what might have been sung that first Christmas morning.
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.
The Story Behind the Song
The author of this famous Christmas carol is Joseph Mohr. He lived from 1792 – 1848. He was from the same city as the Von Trapps—Salzburg, Austria.
Joseph believed that the perfect Christmas song had never been written. In the winter of 1818 high in the region of Tyrol in the beautiful Alps, Mohr wrote the lyrics to “Silent Night.”
He gave it to Franz Gruber who put melody to the words.
Rather than play the organ (the organ was broken), Gruber played the guitar as Joseph Mohr sang the hymn. In the words of Kenneth Osbeck, “The hymn made a deep impact upon the parishioners, even as it has on succeeding generations.” (101 Hymn Stories)
In time, this simple tune would appear in most hymnbooks around the world.
Why? It is the beauty and power of the incarnation—God with us. Immanuel!