This Christmas Eve will mark the 200th anniversary of Silent Night. Written by The Rev. Joseph Mohr, Stille Nacht was sung for the first time in St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf, Austria. This is very near Saltzburg, made famous by the story of the von Trapp Family Singers 150 years later in The Sound of Music (film 1965). Mohr wrote the hymn in response to violence that had occurred in Saltzburg the previous summer. Stille Nacht was first played on Christmas Eve, 1818, with guitar because the church organ was kaput. The hymn was an instant hit. Translated into 300 languages, the first English version was sung in New York City in 1851.
In my opinion, Silent Night sits on the pinnacle of Christmas spirituality. We cannot know when Silent Night first appeared at St. Paul’s in Maumee. But we can safely assume it has been sung every year since without interruption. For my part, I have played Silent Night on the harmonica every Christmas Eve since I was in high school. I am self-taught. I don’t even know the notes. The melody flows from my harmonica like a horse that knows the way home.
Come to your church home and sing Silent Night on Christmas Eve. Hear the Scriptures read and the Gospel preached. Sing the carols with us. May your heart be filled with Christmas spirit at church. May your Christmas joy be holy!
link to source material: americamagazine.org