The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Silent Night, Holy Night

For Christmas

Words: Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht! by Rev. Joseph Mohr, 1816
Translation by Dr. Steve H. Hakes
2015; Used with permission.

Music: "Stille Nacht," Franz Xaver Gruber (1787-1863), circa 1818
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML
Source: Silent Night -- The Original Sheet Music
Cyber sheet music by Frank Peterson
Sequenced by Douglas D. Anderson

Source: Dr. Steve H. Hakes, Silent Night
@ Lyricology Hub: Christian Songs for Life

See: Silent Night, Holy Night - Notes

1. Silent night, holy night 
In the dark, shone God's light 
Shining where that mother so mild
Looked upon her holy child 
Christ the light of the world -
Jesus the light of the world.

2. Silent night, holy night 
Shepherds quaked at the sight 
Glory streamed from heaven afar 
Heavenly angels sang Hallelujah 
Christ our saviour was born -
Jesus our saviour was born.

3. Silent night, holy night 
Gift of heaven, oh how bright 
Shone God's love through that pure infant's face 
With the dawn of redeeming grace 
Christ was lord at his birth -
Jesus was lord at his birth.

Notes from Dr. Hakes:

In 1816, Roman Catholic Father Joseph Mohr, an Austrian, wrote the lyrics. 2 years later a friend set them to guitar music for Christmas Eve. Why not the organ? Well that was awaiting repairs. One rumour has it that it had been sabotaged to thwart an incoming traditionalist priest from converting back into Latin-only mass. Perhaps giving more time for an experiment in German-Latin masses to become established?

But when the repairman arrived, he left with a copy of the song, passed on copies, and it went on a world tour, attributed to an anonymous history within the Austrian state of Tyrol. This identity, as a "Tyrolean folk carol," was held until 1995.

The tune was soon slightly changed, and the song was first published in 1832, and translated into English in the C19. Who translated it? Many say it was John Young - at least stanzas 1 and 3. Some say it was Jane Campbell. Most English versions1 include just three of Mohr's six verses, stanzas 1, 6 and 2, in that order. I have focused on these three. The missing stanzas include reference to Jesus as our curly haired brother.

Dr. Hakes Footnote:

1. I looked at over 24 on All had tardisial elements.

Editor's Note:

Dr. Hakes defines "tardisial" as "it can travel in time, whether to the Birth or 10,000 years forward when [as in the case of O Come, O Come Emmanuel] 'we've no less days to sing God's praise than when we first begun.' "

The translation by J. F. Warner in 1849 is believed to be the earliest. The translation by Rev. John Freeman Young occurred in 1859. The translation by Jane Campbell occurred in 1862. All three translations have been amended numerous times, with varying degrees of skill. See: Silent Night, Holy Night - Notes.

This carol is the result of work by Dr. Steve H. Hakes, who created the website Lyricology Hub: Christian Songs for Life in order to help authors improve their songs. He writes:

Lyricology is dedicated to the proposition that not all songs are created equal, that the most important songs are Christian songs, and that Christian songs that do not perform well, let down the faith they claim to serve. Christian songs that perform well, lift hearts & minds in joy. The site encourages the bad to become good, the good to become better, the better to become best, and the best to be loved.

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