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The “Silent Night” Carol

It touches people from all nations and cultures. The “Silent Night! Holy Night!” carol is an expression of the deepest reflection and a spiritual longing for peace.

Silent Night Museum Hallein © stillenachtland.at
A heavenly coincidence brings two people together in Oberndorf, near Salzburg. The teacher Franz Xaver Gruber is the organist in Saint Nicholas' church, and Josef Mohr is the priest there from 1817 to 1819. Even when he arrives there, he has the words for the carol with him - he had written it as a poem. A year later, Gruber composes a moving melody to accompany it. On the evening of 24th December 1818 "Silent Night" gets its first performance. The world's favourite Christmas carol is born.

At that time, the Napoleonic Wars had just devastated Europe and redrawn national borders. Oberndorf, too, belonged to different nations during this period. Moreover, the boatmen of Oberndorf had been going through hard times for years. Against this general mood of oppression, Mohr and Gruber wanted to give some hope.

The fact that this carol became known beyond Austria's borders so soon after it was finished, in an era without media and data carriers, owes every bit as much to its inner power as to travelling merchants who were also singers. They performed this carol at trade fairs in Germany, and brought it to the court of the King of Prussia. In 1854, the Royal Court's Director of Music requested a copy of the carol, and its composer Gruber then wrote down the history of its creation, which describes the Christmas Eve of 1818 in Oberndorf in authentic detail.

USEFUL LINKS:

The Silent Night Society
The website of the Silent Night Society looks at the origin and development of this popular Christmas carol.
www.stillenacht.at

The Silent Night Museum
The district of Oberndorf is home to the Silent Night Museum. The main focus of the museum is on the development and dissemination of the carol. Open daily  9.00 a.m. - 4.00 p.m. During Advent 9.00 a.m. - 6.00 p.m. Closed February.
www.stillenacht-oberndorf.at

The Silent Night Communities
Facts worth knowing about the idyllic Silent Night Communities of Arnsdorf, Hallein, Mariapfarr, Oberndorf, Salzburg and Wagrain. Well worth a visit.
www.stillenachtland.at

Traditions in Austria

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