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“Silent Night! Holy Night!”
 
In 1818, in the village of Oberndorf, near Salzburg, a small town in the Austrian Alps, the Christmas play was put in jeopardy by a mouse that had rendered the church organ unplayable by eating a hole in the bellows.  Because it could not be repaired in time for the performance, the simple show was moved to a private home.
 
While on his way home following the presentation, the assistant pastor began to reflect on the real meaning of Christmas.  Josef Mohr would make his way along a hillside that overlooked the village.  He was impressed with the still, clear night and the silence and beauty reminded him of that special night over eighteen hundred years earlier.  By the time he reached home, he had penned the words to a poem he titled, “Silent Night! Holy Night!”
 
Later he showed the verses to the church organist, Franz Gruber, a schoolmaster and songwriter.  It is reported that Gruber composed a musical setting the same day he received the poem from Mohr.
 
A few days later, during a Christmas Eve service, Gruber and Mohr sang the song to the small congregation gathered in the church.  As the organ remained unusable, Gruber was forced to accompany them on his guitar.
 
A few weeks later the organ repairman finally made it to Oberndorf.  As he finished, Gruber slid onto the organ bench and began to play their new hymn.  The repairman was so impressed with this new song that he took it back to his village.  “Silent Night! Holy Night!” would be a favorite from the beginning.
 
Soon the well known Strasser Sisters began singing it throughout Europe.  From there it has orbited the earth again and again.  It was translated into English by Jane Campbell in 1863 and made its first appearance in America in 1871 in a Sunday School hymnal assembled by Charles Hutchins.