Wednesday, December 24, 2008

“Silent Night”

The soundtrack of Christmas is unavoidable during the season, isn’t it? Even out here in rural Idaho, land of the internet Christmas shoppers, we hear it in the grocery stores, in the drug store, in the hospital lobby while waiting for a weekly appointment. So my apologies, dear readers, for adding to the soundtrack. But I am a musician after all….

We all know the lovely tune, “Silent Night,” & no doubt many of you know that it was written as a collaboration between a priest & a schoolteacher in 1818 (the lyrics having been written by the priest Father Josef Mohr a couple of years earlier). There’s a story that the schoolmaster, Franz Xaver Gruber wrote a guitar accompaniment because the organ at Mohr’s church had been damaged, but others believe Mohr simply wanted a song he could accompany with his guitar. The English translation that’s sung today dates back to the mid 19th century; it was created by an Episcopal priest in Florida (later a bishop), John Freeman Young. You can read a lot more about Bishop Young at this link, & you also can get all sorts of information about “Silent Night” at the Austrian Stille-Nicht Association, here (link leads to the English page).

Anyhoot, as a sort of Robert Frost’s Banjo Christmas card, the video at the bottom of this post features yours truly fingerpicking “Silent Night” on the 5-string banjo (tonight I’ll be fingerpicking it on a resonator guitar for a midnight Mass at which Eberle & I have played for several years—my year for playing this carol on slightly unusual instruments I guess). The pictures in the slide show come from Wiki Commons, a fantastic resource for public domain media on the web—Wiki Commons also was the source of the pic at the beginning of this post: the music to “Stille Nacht” in Franz Gruber’s hand.

So Merry Christmas, dear readers, & hope you all find the peace that should be a part of this season in the midst of the hubbub that actually obtains. Oh, & by the way—since as Eberle says, “a blogger’s work is never done”
tomorrow, Christmas Day: Songs 4 Foodies #4: a very odd but diverting Christmas banquet….


  1. Lovely; thanks for sharing. We need to get you and your 5-string into a Westport (Ireland) pub!

  2. I rarely leave comments so my commenting skills are abysmal. But I so wanted to acknowledge your silent night solo. Lovely.


    the errant aesthete

  3. Thanks to you both! I'll be off plucking the resonator guitar tonight if we can naivagte thru the storm.

    Thanks again,


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