|Silent Night - From the January 11(?), 1975 edition of the Buffalo Volksfreund
Mice ate away at the Organ
Throughout the world people sing one of the most beautiful of German Christmas carols - "Silent Night, Holy Night...". It sounds like an old folk tune, which derived from an unknown and ancient source. But in reality only 156 years have gone by since an assistant pastor and organist created it at St. Nicholas' Church in Oberndorf in the Salzburg region of Austria.
The story of the song concerning the "holy infant so tender and mild" is a touching one. In the Winter of 1818 mice had eaten away at the church organ in such a way that clear tones could not longer be produced from it. Assistant Pastor Joseph Mohr had to forego any attempt to perform beautiful music on the organ. He had to find other means to enrich the Church service. He took some quarto sheets to organist Franz Gruber at midday on December 24th.
What then happened Gruber reported in a letter 36 years later:
By the time the old master wrote this letter, people all over the world were singing his and Pastor Mohr's Silent Night, Holy Night. It was sung by people gathered under the Christmas tree and assembled before the manger scene. The song made its way into the world from a church in Oberndorf on the Salzach, where Austria borders Bavaria. It was the favorite song of Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who had it performed throughout the year by his castle church choir.
St. Nicholas Church was built in Oberndorf in 1180. It was torn down in the 1920s because of structural defects. Atop a hill in its place today there stands a splendid memorial chapel.
Caption under picture at lower right reads Winter in the Salzburg Region - The Memorial Chapel in Oberndorf