Austria prepares to celebrate Silent Night 200 years anniversary

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Silent Night Chapel Oberndorf bei Salzburg Austria
Silent Night Chapel Oberndorf bei Salzburg Austria

Most people who knows of Christmas would possibly have heard of the Christmas carol “Silent Night” but how many people know of it’s history.

This year of 2018 marks the 200 years anniversary since the first performance of “Silent Night”, and Austria has prepared a special way to celebrate it.

Usually every year during the Christmas period, thousands of people around the world would travel to the Silent Night Chapel.  Every 24th of December, at 5pm, mass will be held and the famous carol will be sung in many languages.

“We are expecting around 6,000 people this Christmas Eve, where normally we would have 3-4,000,” Clemens Konrad, the head of Oberndorf’s tourism office, said.

Travel operators have included special stops on their itineraries to mark the anniversary, and visitors have come from as far afield as Sri Lanka and Japan, said Konrad.

The song was originally written as a poem by Father Joseph Mohr, a young priest in 1816, in the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria.

Two years later in 1818, Joseph Mohr asked his friend, the organist, choirmaster and school teacher Franz Xaver Gruber to compose a melody for this poem.

This was the birth of the Christmas Carol “Stille Nacht” (German) which was first performed to a modest church congregation of ship laborers and their families.

Years after its premiere, Franz Xaver Gruber wrote that it had met with “general approval by all” among the congregation.

The carol became known outside Austria when it was incorporated into two singing groups (The Rainer Singers and the Strasser Siblings) who performed it around Europe and beyond.

As this Christmas Carol begin to spread to the world, it has been translated into over 300 different languages and dialects to what we know of today.

It is interesting to note that Salzburg is also the birth place of Mozart and the film “The Sound of Music”.

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