History of the Song
The pastor Josef Mohr wrote the poem “Silent Night” back in 1816 during his period in Mariapfarr in the Salzburg region of Lungau.
Two years passed by the time he gave the text to the teacher and sacristan Franz Gruber – who was substituting for the organist of the St. Nicholas parish church at the time – on December 24, 1818. Since the church organ wasn’t working on that day, he decided to write a suitable melody for two solo voices, a choir and a guitar accompaniment set to the words by Josef Mohr.
That same night, during the Christmas mass on December 24, 1818, the song was heard for the first time in the St. Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf. Everyone there found it very appealing.
The organ builder “Mauracher” made sure that the song became well-known around the world. First he took it with him to Zillertal in Tyrol. From there it was distributed all across Europe by traveling choir associations and in 1839 it was finally performed overseas for the first time in New York.
By the turn of the century, the most famous Christmas song in the world was already sung on all continents. “Silent Night” has been translated into more than 300 different languages and dialects so far.