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This Day in History: Silent Night

Friday, December 24, 2021 8:01 AM | Anonymous

On December 24th, 1818 priest and poet Joseph Mohr approached composer Franz Xaver Gruber and asked him to create guitar music to his lyrics for what would become Silent Night ("Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht" in German) for that evening's mass. Mohr was searching for alternative music, as flood waters had damaged the church's organ and it was woefully in need of tuning. Mohr had written the poem in 1816 following the Napoleonic Wars. The song was performed that night and quickly became a holiday favorite. Over the years Mohr's name has often been forgotten and the song has been attributed to many famed composers including Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. This is not the case in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, where the song was first performed. There, in the Silent Night Chapel, Mohr and his holiday contribution are memorialized. The church features stained glass windows depicting Mohr, framed copies of the poem, and even houses Mohr's skull interred behind the nativity scene. 

Today, Silent Night has been translated into more languages than there are countries in the UN and has become one of the most popular Christmas carols even today.

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