DAILY CATHOLIC     MONDAY     December 28, 1998     vol. 9, no. 249

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO

180 YEARS OF "SILENT NIGHT": A CHRISTMAS CAROL THAT HAS UNITED MILLIONS OF PEOPLE THROUGHOUT THE WORLD WHO CELEBRATE THE BIRTH OF THE SON OF GOD

          ROME, 24 (NE) "Silent Night, Holy Night". These are the first verses of a simple but fascinating song repeated throughout the years in the different places where Christmas is celebrated. Translated to many languages, they are words that have accompanied these celebrations uniting different races and languages in a common worship to God. Words whose melody has evoked in the hearts of those who listen to them the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God in the virginal womb of Holy Mary.

          Nevertheless, only a few actually know the origin of one of the most traditional Christmas carols. The finding of an original script dated 1816 allowed to clarify the story of the song and its author, and Austrian priest born in December 1792. His name was Joseph Mohr, and was born in a humble family. As a child, he lost his father. His natural inclination to music was soon discovered by the cathedral choirmaster, who helped him to receive an education. By 1810 the young Joseph was studying and preparing himself for priesthood, being ordained five years after.

          He was moved to Mariapfarr, his father's village, a place surrounded by woods and fresh air, where it is believed he wrote the poem that would later be famous as a Christmas carol. Because of his health, he was moved again to another town, Oberndorf, 13 miles of Salzburg, where he met Franz Xaver Gruber, a musician who would become his friend. As the Christmas of 1818 came closer, Joseph searched for the verses of his Christmas poem, and together with Gruber made some arrangements to the poem and thus was born the traditional Christmas carol.

          That same Christmas, precisely 180 years ago, the organ of the temple broke down, which forced the priest to use alternative songs for the Mid Night celebration. At the time, it would have been very difficult for a song in German, accompanied by a guitar, to be sung at the temple, at least in such a solemn ceremony. The situation allowed the song to be heard publicly for the first time. It happened on Christmas of 1818, in a Church dedicated to St. Nikolas in Oberndorf. Father Mohr would be called to the Father's presence on 1848, dying in poverty after a life consecrated to his priesthood, and leaving behind to the world a song that has illuminated with joy and hope millions of homes which celebrate the coming of the Lord Jesus.


Article above provided by Noticias Eclesiales at Church News Noticias Eclesiales is not affiliated with the DAILY CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the DAILY CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

December 28, 1998       volume 9, no. 249
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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