Stille Nacht ~ Franz Gruber 1818 ~ Mannheim Steamroller

The world's most popular Christmas carol was first sung in Austria on Christmas Eve 1818. The melody was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber (1787-1863). The words came from the pen of pastor Joseph Franz Mohr (1792-1848). The song was almost lost forever after its first performance in a church in Oberndorf (near Salzburg) to Gruber's guitar accompaniment. (Learn more about the song's history at this Web site: Austria's 'Stille Nacht'.)

The first known performance of "Stille Nacht" in the United States took place near New York City's Trinity Church. In 1839 the Rainer family singers of Austria included the German version of "Stille Nacht" in their repertoire during an appearance at the Alexander Hamilton Monument near the church, some 24 years before an English version of the carol would be published.

Today's most popular English version of "Silent Night" was translated by the Episcopal priest John Freeman Young, assigned at the time to the same Trinity Church associated with the 1839 performance of "Stille Nacht." Reverend Young apparently enjoyed translating European hymns and carols into English, and it is his 1863 "Silent Night" text that is found today in most hymnals and Christmas carol collections published in the English-speaking world.

The original Franz Gruber melody has also been altered slightly, probably during the time when it was being performed in Austria and Bavaria during the 19th century

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