The journey of Silent Night

This time of year everywhere you go, you hear the sounds of the season. Bells ringing at store fronts, carols in the stores, in your home, and on the radio. One of those songs has been with us for almost 200 years. Here's the story of a world famous song that had humble beginnings.

From its beginnings in a tiny church in the Austrian city of Oberndorf, Silent Night or Stille Nacht Heilge Nacht, has become one of the most recognizable songs in the world.

Father Joseph Mohr wrote the original six stanzas in 1816. Then on Christmas Eve, 1818, he went to musician Franz Gruber to ask him to write music to his poem. That very night, Silent Night was first performed with vocals and guitar, appropriately enough at the St. Nicholas church. There are a variety of stories why Father Mohr wanted a new carol.

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"The problem is that it has perpetuated in various sources but there's no definitive proof that the organ was not available at the time. It was originally written for guitar accompanying a voice, but why it's written that way, there's no record of it," said Dr. Ted DuBois, WTAMU Professor of Music.

The song was picked up by travelling folk singers, think of the Von Trapp family from the Sound of Music. By 1839, it had been performed for emperors, Tsars, and had made the trip to America. It was during that time that some notes were changed and that's how we got the melody we know today.

Episcopal Priest John Freeman Young is credited with writing the popular English translation we all know during the 1860's. It has been translated into at least 44 languages and is known across the globe.

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The story of the humble beginnings of one of the most famous songs in the world is definitely something to ponder during this holy season.