Silent Night is one of the most popular and peaceful Christmas songs known to children. It is widely sung by children’s’ choirs all over the world in different languages. The lyrics of this song were originally made by a priest in Mariapfarr, Austria by the name of Fr. Joseph Mohr in 1816. Music was added and composed in 1818 by Fr. Mohr’s school teacher friend, Franz Xaver Gruber. Franz Gruber first composed the song with a guitar arrangement. It was years later when Franz Gruber transposed it to an organ arrangement.
Nobody knows the true story of this song but there is a legend that explains why it was created with a guitar arrangement at first. The legend says Fr. Mohr wanted the children at the village to sing this song on Christmas Eve as a surprise to their parents. The organ broke so they were forced to play the song with a guitar. This legend was not proven by researchers.
The song was first heard at the midnight mass in 1818. The guitar arrangement was written down on paper in 1820 and this is the oldest manuscript that still exists. Franz Gruber further wrote many arrangements of this song in later years.
In 1863, the song was translated to English by John Freeman Young. The carol was repeatedly performed during many concerts. Bu the time it became popular, Fr. Mohr had already died. Franz Gruber told music uthorities in Berlin that he had composed the melody but nobody believed him until the manuscripts were found bearing his name as composer. The carol became even more popular because it was sung during the First World War Christmas Truce in 1914 because it was the only Christmas music that both of the parties knew.
Today, it is one of the most recorded Christmas carols in history with many covers and versions of the song.