“Silent Night” (Christmas Song)

“Silent Night” is, shall we say an enriched account of the birth of Jesus, i.e. the primary event upon which the Christmas holiday is based. Or more specifically, it is presented as if the vocalist himself may have been there. But in actuality, the lyrics represent a poetically retelling of some of the Biblical passages associated with Jesus’ birth.

Lyrics of “Silent Night”

For instance, there is a reference to the well-known Virgin Mary, i.e. Jesus’s own mom, in the first verse. And as for the child himself, he is depicted as “sleep(ing) in heavenly peace”. But concerning the afore-note embellishments to the tale, in reality there doesn’t seem to be any quotation alluding to such in the Bible itself.

The second verse then centers on perhaps the most forgotten characters of the Nativity scene. These are the local shepherds who were doing their thing nearby when an angel rolled up on them and announced the birth of Christ. 

Then afterwards additional angles showed up and started singing praises. And the shepherds did in fact go as instructed to see the child and were apparently the first of Jesus’s contemporaries to actually witness of him, i.e. tell others of the whole miraculous incident of his forthcoming.

Then in the third verse, we have the Baby Jesus being presented as exceptionally beautiful and radiant. But again, there doesn’t appear to be anything in the Bible concerning his presence as a newborn. So instead, such lyricism is of course symbolic. 

And what it is intended to relay, as with the song in general, is a deep reverence for Jesus. Put simply, it explains what his presence was meant to symbolize to believers in the first place, which is the perceivable holiness of God and redemption for mankind.

In Conclusion

So after delving into these lyrics, it’s easy to see why “Silent Night” is the most famous Christmas carol ever. And that is because out of all of such songs we have researched, this is the one which most clearly, even if poetically, puts forth the idea that Jesus is a special figure whose birth was of major historical and more importantly spiritual significance.

And concerning the night of Jesus’s birth as having been “silent” and “calm”, such adjectives would also logically be symbolic in nature. However, it has also been suggested that they were indicative of Joseph Mohr’s, the author of the lyrics, ideal vision for the world, considering that his country had recently gone through a major war and other calamities. 

Though in actuality, no one knows exactly why he decided to write “Silent Night”. However, the easiest explanation would be that considering he was a priest at the time, he did so primarily as a form of propagating the gospel in a way that others could enjoy.

"Silent Night" Lyrics

Who wrote “Silent Night”?

The lyrics of this song were derived from a poem entitled “Stille Nacht”, as written by Joseph Mohr (1792-1848) in 1816. Mohr was an Austrian Catholic priest who had a friend, an actual musician named Franz Xaver Gruber (1787-1863). And it was Gruber he enlisted in 1818 to put said poem to music in the name of creating a Christmas carol. 

Apparently Mohr wasn’t really expecting it to blow up. But the carol promptly caught on in Austria and very quickly spread throughout the world (considering the time period we’re referring to). 

But such is indicative of the fact that this tune would go on to be declared, reportedly in 2014 by Time magazine, as “the most popular Christmas song ever” (based on a study held in the United States).

Franz Gruber was able to put the instrumental together expeditiously. He was tasked with doing so on the same night, Christmas Eve 1818, that he and Joseph Mohr first performed it (in recognition of Christmas mass). Furthermore, whereas the original intent was to compose the melody on an organ, the one the venue (i.e. church) had on hand was nonfunctional, so they used a guitar for that purpose instead.

Famous Covers of “Silent Night”

When a folk song like this, if you will, proves universally popular and, then of course it’s going to be covered by a number of big-name musicians. In fact “Silent Night” has also been dubbed “the most covered Christmas song of all time”. 

And some of the notable names on that list include:

  • Jackie Wilson
  • Barbra Streisand
  • Ella Fitzgerald
  • Al Green
  • Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton
  • Neil Diamond
  • Boyz II Men
  • Mariah Carey
  • Destiny’s Child
  • Percy Sledge
  • Nat King Cole
  • Josh Groban
  • The Cats
  • Glasvegas
  • Elvis Presley
  • Ashanti
  • Justin Bieber
  • Carrie Underwood

Out of the lot though, the rendition laid down by Bing Crosby in 1935 is apparently the most successful. It reportedly sold over 10,000,000 copies as of the early 2010s.

More Interesting Facts

It has been pointed out that the lyrical content of this song was influenced by what history refers to as the Napoleonic Wars. These were a series of battles that lasted a little over a decade during the early part of the 19th century where France was the central nation involved. Austria also played an important role therein.

Once “Silent Night” did become globally famous Joseph Mohr, a relatively humble figure as far as history is concerned, wasn’t acknowledged as its author (though Franz Gruber was still recognized). 

Lyrical attribution was credited to the bigwigs of his day, such as Beethoven (1770-1827) and Mozart (1756-1791). In fact it wasn’t until 1995 that definitive proof of Mohr’s authorship was discovered, that being the lyrics to “Silent Night” he had written circa 1820, which also noted where and when he originally wrote the song.

As far as this song’s transition into the English-speaking world, the translation of “Silent Night” that most of us use today has been attributed to John Freeman Young (1820-1885), another holy man, though this one having been based in Florida. And he did so in 1859.

Also in regards to the English rendering of “Silent Night”, it has been noted that said rendition features some melodic changes. One such modification was the song being slowed down.

There is a famous and true incident from World War I, known as the Christmas Truce of 1914. This incident, which occurred on Christmas Eve of that year, saw warring British and German soldiers in fact calling an unofficial, temporary truce. They proceeded to play football together and sang Christmas carols to each other. And amongst the carols rendered (by the Germans actually) was “Silent Night”.

Silent Night

2 Responses

  1. kariruth says:

    i wished silent night christmas song gonna turned off for once and i getting tired of that song on the radio stations all the time and it doesnt make me happy only cranky mood all the time and i have bad experience about silent night christmas song and really make people going sleep at night and i dont want to sleep at night and i rather to party at night and stay up later at night and going bars on weekends and drink alcohol beverage and play slots machine and hangout playing pool and i never going to church on holidays and they always playing terrible happy silent night christmas song and that really bothers me so badly on christmas holidays and i think that silent night christmas song getting so old and annoying all the time and ready to put stop on craziness slow baby story silent night christmas song really should do that and i rather dealing with iheartradio instead of craziness baby story silent night christmas song and i am having enough with happy silent night christmas song

  2. kariruth says:

    dear lord please know school kids and teenagers doesnt like silent night christmas song that well and it bothers them so badly on christmas holidays and christmas stories bothers them so badly and they getting little tired of the same slow terrible silent night christmas song and getting little to much with that song and to me i think so little to much and please understand how school kids and teenagers are about craziness silent night christmas song is and not their typed of song to listen on holidays and no way and bad news bears

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