Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Carol Chronicles: Silent Night

photo courtesy of
Father Josef Mohr of Oberndorf, Austria authored the final carol of my series on the story behind the carols. If we read all the verses, “Silent Night” shares the message of Luke 1. In my skit, “Stops and Strings” we learn the circumstances that surrounded the writing of this most beloved carol.

FATHER MOHR: Ah, old organ, I so hoped you would hold together until the repairman arrived in the spring—or at least for two more days! But it seems there will be no music at St. Nicholas Church this Christmas.

Maybe a walk will cheer me up.

NARRATOR: It is the evening of December 23rd, 1818. Father Mohr strolls through the quiet, snowy streets till he reaches the edge of town. Climbing the path up the mountain, he gazes prayerfully out over the Alps.

FATHER MOHR: Lord, the snow is beautiful. And the stars are shining so brightly on this silent, holy night. . . Silent night, holy night. . . It’s been years since I thought about that poem I wrote. It would make a perfect song for Christmas Eve. But the old organ is in disrepair. What would we do for music, Lord? Is there some other way? . . . Of course, Lord! That’s it! That’s how we can have music at church!

NARRATOR: Early the next morning Father Mohr traveled to the home of Franz Gruber, the organist for St. Nicholas Church.

GRUBER: Come in and sit down, Father Mohr! What are you doing here on Christmas Eve?

FATHER MOHR: Thank you, Franz! I’m glad I found you at home. I’m sorry to say the church organ has stopped completely.

GRUBER: I expected as much. But you didn’t need to come all this way just to tell me that. I plan to be at the church later today.

FATHER MOHR: I had another reason for coming. I wrote this poem a few years ago and last evening God reminded me of it. I know this is asking a lot at the last minute, but do you think you could possibly compose a melody to go with it for tonight’s service?

GRUBER: For tonight! That’s not much time. But I guess I could at least take a look at it. . . This poem is really good, Father. It’s too bad we will have to sing a-cappella.

FATHER MOHR: Not necessarily, Franz. I brought my guitar along.

GRUBER: A guitar, Father Mohr? Do you mean play the guitar in church? Why, that’s never been done before! However, the congregation does love instrumental music. . .

NARRATOR: On Christmas Eve, with puzzled looks from the congregation, Father Mohr and Franz Gruber sang their song with guitar accompaniment. There was silence for a few moments following; then something rarely heard in worship in those days occurred. The congregation broke out in applause!

I hope you have enjoyed my series “The Christmas Carol Chronicles”. Perhaps next December I will take up where I left off this year and continue to explore the stories behind the songs.

May your Christmas be both holy and merry, and may 2014 be filled with God’s blessings for you and yours.


©2013 Pamela D. Williams


  1. I didn't know the origin. That is awesome! I'll have to go back and catch up! Nice job, sister.

    1. Thanks, Floyd. Enjoy the stories behind the carols!