A Carol's Humble Origins

Personal Items of Franz Xaver Gruber, (c) picture-alliance/akg-images/Erich Lessing Enlarge image (© picture-alliance/akg-images/Erich Lessing) Silent Night, Holy Night is one of the world's best known Christmas carols. The words were written in 1816 by Joseph Mohr, a young priest in Mariapfarr in Lungau. Franz Xaver Gruber, a teacher and organist in the village of Arnsdorf, put the poem to music before Christmas in 1818.

The two premiered the Christmas carol on 24 December 1818 in St Nicolas Church in Oberndorf near Salzburg.

The carol became so well known when the organ builder Mauracher from Fügen in the Zillertal performed it with other musicians from Tirol in Leipzig. The audience was entranced by the melody. From there, Silent Night, Holy Night blazed a trail across Germany and the whole world.

By now, the carol has been translated into 300 different languages and dialects.

© Federal Foreign Office

Silent Night, Holy Night

Listen to a jazzy interpretation of the song by Max Osvald, a jazz pianist from Munich.

(© Max Osvald)

Silent Night