The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Holy Night, Peaceful Night

Words: Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!, Rev. Joseph Mohr, 1816
Translator: Jane Montgomery Campbell (1817-1878), 1862

Music: "Holy Night," Alonzo P. Howard (1838-1902)
Meter: PM

Original Music "Stille Nacht," by Franz Gruber, 1818
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML
Original Music: MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML

Source: Edwin Augustus Bedell, ed., The Church Hymnary: A Collection of Hymns and Tunes for Public Worship (New York: Maynard, Merrill & Co., 1900), #187, p. 90.

See Notes and Links to Translations

1. Holy night! Peaceful night!
All is dark, save the light
Yonder where they sweet vigils keep,
O'er the Babe who in silent sleep,
Rests in heavenly peace.
Rests in Heavenly peace.

2. Silent night! holiest night!
Darkness flies and all is light!
Shepherds hear the angels sing —
"Hallelujah! hail the King!
Jesus Christ is here!"
Jesus Christ is here!

3. Silent night! peaceful night!
Child of heaven! O how bright
Thou didst smile when Thou wast born;
Blessèd was that happy morn,
Full of heavenly joy.
Full of heavenly joy.

4. Silent night! holiest night!
Guiding star, O, lend thy light!
See the eastern wise men bring
Gifts and homage to our King!
Jesus Christ is here!
Jesus Christ is here!

5. Silent night! holiest night!
Wondrous star! O, lend thy light!
With the angels let us sing
Hallelujah to our King!
Jesus Christ is here!
Jesus Christ is here!

Bedell's 1890 and 1900 editions gives "Used by permission of Oliver Ditson Company, owners of the copyright."

According to John Julian (Dictionary of Hymnology, 1907, p.761), this version was first published in C. S. Bere's A Garland of Songs, 1863, and thence in Hymns and Carols, London, 1871. I have been unable to review a copy of either work (due to their age, many libraries decline to give an inter-library loan; I was unable to locate any scanned copy at Google Books, March, 2009).

Miss Campbell's translation has been subjected to extensive editing throughout the years. In 1869, Alfred Bell created his adaptation that was set to music by Sir Joseph Barnby and published by Barnby in his Original Tunes to Popular Hymns, Vol. 1 (London, Novello and Company, 1869). The differences:

Bell also substitutes “Alleluia” for Campbell's “Hallelujah.”

This translation was also published by Novello and Company as a separate piece of sheet music, as noticed in a review of Barnby's Hymns and Tunes in The Musical World, Dec. 11, 1869, p. 851. The reviewer noted "...'Holy night, peaceful night' deserves special mention for its grace and beauty. The words are excellent, and, with the music, make a really charming piece." It has been frequently reprinted: Holy Night, Peaceful Night.

The following alternate first verse is another example of the editing of the Campbell translation. This example is from Andreas Bersagel, et al, eds., The Concordia Hymnal (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1932), #140, p. 124; both Gruber and Mohr are given appropriate attribution, but no credit to Campbell is given.

Silent night! Holy night!
Through the darkness beams a light
Yonder, where they sweet vigils keep
O'er the Babe in silent sleep;
Rests in heavenly peace,
Rests in heavenly peace.

Likewise, in The Book Of Common Praise (Oxford: University Press, 1909, #742), the second verse is given as

Silent night! peaceful night!
Only for shepherds' sight
Came blest visions of angel throngs,
With their loud alleluia songs,
Saying, Christ is come.
Saying, Christ is come.

The following alternate first verse is found in Moravian Church, Offices of Worship and Hymns (Bethlehem, PA: Moravian Publications Office, 1902), #1516, p. 414. The second verse is an altered version of the Campbell translation; the third verse is from the Young translation. This editor acknowledges both Gruber and Mohr.

Silent night! Holy night!
Slumber reigns! Naught in sight!
Save that pair who lone vigil keep
O'er the Child Who, in softest sleep,
Rests in heavenly peace,
Rests in heavenly peace.

In The Hymnal (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Christian Education, 1933), the first line of the three verses are changed to (1) "Silent night, holy night", (2) "Peaceful night! Holiest night!", and (3) "Silent night, holiest night".

In The Service Hymnal (Chicago: Hope Publishing Company, 1943), the first line of all verses was changed to "Silent night, holy night," and the last two lines in some verses were changed to:

"Christ the Saviour is born,
Christ the Saviour is born."


"Christ the Saviour is born,
Jesus the Saviour is born."

A. P. Howard is credited with this second verse in Frank Landon Humphreys, ed., Christmas Carols (New York: Novello Ewer & Co., 1900), p. 22:

Holy night! Peaceful night!
Only for shepherds' sight;
Came Blest visions of angel throngs,
With their loud Hallelujah songs,
Full of heav'nly, heav'nly joy,
Full of heav'nly, heav'nly joy.

Verses 1 and 3 are from Campbell. "A. P. Howard" is likely Alonzo P. Howard (1838-1902). He provided the music to several carols found in Carols Old and Carols New, edited by Rev. C. L. Hutchins, and was the editor of the volume Carols for Christmas, Easter and Other Festivals (Boston: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1867, 42 pages).

Other results for "A. P. Howard" retrieved from Google Books include:

No scanned copies were available in February, 2009. The "American Literary Gazette and Publishers' Circular" circa 1866-7, referred to a volume titled "Carols for Christmas, Easter, Epiphany, and Other Occasions" edited by A. P. Howard as "Beautifully printed, with illuminated cover."


1. Or: Holy night, peaceful night. Return

2. Or: 'There' Return

3. Or: 'Resting' Return

Sheet Music

Source: Edwin Augustus Bedell, ed., The Church Hymnary: A Collection of Hymns and Tunes for Public Worship (New York: Maynard, Merrill & Co., 1900), #187, p. 90.

Sheet Music from Charles L. Hutchins, ed., Sunday-School Hymnal and Service Book (Boston: The Parish Choir, 1892), #495.

There was no attribution for lyrics or musical setting.

Sheet Music from Henry Sloane Coffin and Ambrose White Vernon, eds., Hymns of the Kingdom of God (New York: The A. S. Barnes Company, 1910), #468

Additional musical setting by H. A. L. Peabody (New York: Oliver Ditson & Co.,  1885)
No credit to Miss Campbell was given on the sheet music.
Source of the sheet music is the Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division,
America Singing: Nineteenth-Century Song Sheets
(American Memory, Performing Arts-Music)

MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML

Sheet music from Y. P. Rodeheaver, Gospel Solos and Duets (Winona Lake, Indiana: Rodeheaver-Hall- Mack Co., 1925), Carol 141

Silent_Night_141.gif (234958 bytes)


"Campbell, Jane Montgomery, an English lady, a writer and teacher of music, daughter of the Rev. A. Montgomery Campbell, of the Church of England, was born in London in 1817; and died November 15, 1878. She was a teacher in her father's parish school, a writer of English verse, and a translator of German hymns, some of which were published in C. S. Bere's A Garland of Songs, 1862, and Children's Choral Book, 1869. She is the author of A Handbook for Singers. One of her most noted hymns was 'We plow the fields and scatter.'"
    Source: Charles S. Nutter, Hymn Writers of the Church (Nashville: Smith & Lamar, 1915).

The biography by John Julian is substantially the same (The Dictionary of Hymnology, Second Edition, 1907).

Verses 1 and 3 occur in John Ireland Tucker, The Parish Hymnal (New York: F. J. Huntington and Co., 1870, 1872). I have been unable to determine the translator of verse two (but assume that it's likely Tucker):

Holy night ! Peaceful night !
Only for shepherd's sight,
Came blest visions of angel throngs,
With their loud Hallelujah songs,
Saying, Jesus is come,
Saying, Jesus is come.

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