Christmas Classics – Silent Night (Lyrics Review and Song Meaning)


Christmas is a time when stories come to life, in intimate and glorious splendor – interweaving memories and a festive spirit. Where joy resonates in our souls, where feelings are complemented by smells, sights and a certain magic in the air…. A bewitching amalgam of spiritual and cultural myths animated by rhyme, reason and ritual.

No matter who you are or where you come from, or what you believe in, this time of year the Christmas soundtrack is universal; because it is familiar, rich, memorable, evocative and personal because it reflects much more than a simple partition of our lives.

“Silent Night” is arguably the most famous Christmas carol, on par with “Jingle Bells” and “Twelve Days of Christmas”. The modern version as we know it is sung in over 300 different languages ​​around the world. It is in many ways THE mother of all Christmas carols, an epic lullaby that brings to life the majestic silence that dresses the long winter darkness with its heartwarming melodies, while its lyrics evoke that night the angels announced the birth. from the Messiah to the shepherds on a hill.

The three-line ballad describes the events of the birth of Jesus Christ. The Earth is calm and still all around Bethlehem, except for the solitary cry of the newborn baby. Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, holds her baby in her arms, and the shepherds gather around her to witness the miracle. In addition, heavenly hosts came down from above to welcome this child to Earth by singing Alleluia (“praise the Lord”). The Carol uses some honors to address Jesus Christ, such as “Holy Child”, “Christ the Savior” and “Son of God”.

But how did this brooding lament come to life? When was “Silent Night” designed to become reason and rhyme?

History of “Silent Night”

Legend has it that a group of traveling actors who performed in Austrian Alpine towns arrived in Oberndorf, a village near Salzburg on December 23, 1818. They reconstructed the story of Christ’s birth in the small Saint-Nicolas church. However, the Church organ was not in usable condition, so the actors performed in a private house. Such was their performance of these first chapters of Matthew and Luke that Assistant Pastor Josef Mohr was deeply moved. After the performance, Josef opted for a longer scenic drive overlooking the peaceful snow-capped village, instead of walking directly to his home.

Listen to the Christmas carol “Silent Night”

The scenic beauty the pastor saw was reminiscent of a poem he had written a few years earlier. It was perfect for a Christmas carol but he didn’t have music to accompany his words. The Christmas Eve service was also held the next day, so Josef met church organist Franz Xaver Gruber early the next day. They worked together and Gruber, inspired by Josef’s lyrics, composed the music on the guitar due to the organ damage.

This Christmas Eve, Gruber and Mohr performed their miraculous and magical composition in front of the small congregation of Oberndorf and it was so powerful that they were all in awe of the Christmas carol.

Several weeks later, Karl Mauracher, a famous organ builder, arrived in Oberndorf. After Mauracher finished repairing the organ, he let Gruber play the repaired instrument. It is said that when Gruber’s fingers danced across the keys playing the simple but strangely haunting melody composed for Mohr’s poem, Mauracher was left dazed and breathless. The organ builder brought with him copies of the music and lyrics from “Stille Nacht” to Kapfing, his own alpine village where two well-known singing families – the Rainers and the Strassers upon hearing him were moved and added it to their Christmas directory. The Christmas carol from then on spread across the earth first through traveling groups of folk singers, then became a staple in the modern ethos of Christmas carols, captivating and enchanting those who have heard it. It has the contours and style of a lullaby while its tune and words are hailed as masterpieces of concise expression.

Some say that “Stille Nacht” was inspired by the liberation of Salzburg from Napoleonic and then Bavarian rule. Others think it brilliantly highlights how, with the church organ down, Mohr and Gruber helped avoid a silent night and save a lonely Christmas Eve with no music. Either way and whatever origin you find resonates best, there is no shadow of a doubt, whether silent or loud, “Silent Night” is a song of Remarkable Christmas that has withstood the trials and tests of time and will surely continue to do so.

Let us know what your favorite Christmas carols are in the comments below.

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