In 1816, Father Joseph Mohr, a Roman Catholic priest of Oberndoff, Austria wrote the words to a poem celebrating the birth of Jesus. Two years later, on Christmas Eve day, Dec. 24, 1818, Fr. Mohr sought out the help of his Choir Master friend, to compose a melody and guitar arrangement for his poem. Gruber, a musician and composer consented and immediately began to work on a melody, for his friend wanted the hymn to be sung in a few hours at midnight Mass! Indeed, that very night, backed with a choir, Fr. Mohr playing the guitar, along with Franz Gruber sang for the first time, the six verses of Stille Nacht for the parishioners of St. Nicholas church.
There are a variety of stories regarding the circumstances surrounding the writing of Fr. Mohr's poem. What had been his inspiration? One version that makes sense: Father Mohr on the Christmas Eve day of 1816, had gone some distance from the village to call on a family of the parish to baptize a baby. On his return, along the forest pathway on the clear starlit night, he was inspired by words for a poem which he wrote upon arriving home. Two years later, when the parish's organ was not working, that is when the poem became a hymn set to guitar arrangement.
Translated from German to hundreds of languages, this hymn has touched the hearts of people around the world throughout the 195 years since that special Midnight Mass in the village of Oberndoff.
Merry Christmas to our readers!
Contact Terri Lefebvre Prince, Heritage Researcher,
City of Yorkton Archives, Box 400, 37 Third Avenue North
Yorkton, Sask. S3N 2W3 306-786-1722 herit...@yorkton.ca