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