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Silent Night songs gets 200 years old



Born on a cold night in the chapel of a small Austrian village, Silent Night, the world's most famous Christmas carol, is celebrating its 200th anniversary.

The song, known as Stille Nacht in the original German, was first performed on Dec 24, 1818, in the tiny hamlet of Oberndorf, as a local assistant priest, Joseph Mohr, sought to comfort his flock, racked by poverty and misery in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars.

'He asked his friend Franz Xaver Gruber, a teacher, to compose the music for six verses he had written two years prior, and they performed the song together at mass with the help of a simple guitar,' says Mr Renate Ebeling-Winkler, a historian and expert on the topic.

The song was an immediate success but remained a secret for many years, until an organ delivery man from Tyrol took note of it on his way through the village.

It soon became a favourite with Tyrolean singers, travelling up and down the continent in the winter to earn money.

'Admired for its resistance to Napoleon, Tyrol was very popular with allied countries and its best singers, like the Rainer family, were world stars,' said Mr Ebeling-Winkler.

These artists gave Silent Night - which became known as a popular Tyrolean song - worldwide fame, performing it at the royal court in London in 1827, in Moscow in 1831 and in New York in 1839.

By this time, its origins had been largely forgotten and Mohr died in 1848 without ever knowing of his song's success.

Franz Xaver Gruber only found out about it in 1854 when the carol was almost attributed to Michael Haydn, the brother of famed composer Joseph Haydn. (...)

 

You can read the whole article at:  The Straits Times