We’ve all heard the classic Christmas carol “Silent Night.” Whether it’s on the radio, in the background of a movie, or sung at Mass, the song is one of the most popular Christmas carols to date. But why? Why has this song, which is so simple and so humble, made such a large impact in not just the Christian world, but also in the secular world? Let’s take a closer look at the song and its origins to find out.
Silent Night was written by Joseph Mohr in 1816. He was a young priest living in Austria who had written the lyrics down in the form of a poem one evening. It wasn’t until 1818 when Mohr would show the lyrics to his friend Franz Gruber, who happened to be a musician-schoolteacher, that a melody accompanying lyrics began to take form. It was Christmas Eve of that same year that the song was performed for the first time. After this first performance, word of the song spread rapidly, growing in popularity along the way. In fact, the Strasser Family, a traveling family of folk singers (similar to the Trapp family singers as seen in The Sound of Music) incorporated the song into their routine. By 1832 the notes had been tweaked to create the melody that we all know and love today.
While there is certainly more history surrounding this beloved song, the true significance of the song comes from the lyrics and creation itself. Mohr and Gruber were by no means famous. They were humble people who lived ordinary lives. They didn’t expect for their simple song to be as popular as it ended up being. They didn’t expect fame or recognition for their efforts. They simply sought a way to better praise and worship the Lord during the season of Advent. Isn’t that something we should all strive for?
Take a moment to listen to this carol. Really listen to the words, think about the message Mohr and Gruber so carefully expressed to the world. Think of what seemingly ordinary acts God is calling you to do. You might be surprised with His answer.
Post written by Katie Karpinski