Writer(s):

Joseph Muhr/
Franz Gruber


Quotable:

One of the most popular Christmas carols of all time might have never seen the light of day if mice hadn’t destroyed a church organ.


First charted:

12/21/1935


Charts:


HT 7
HP --
CB --
UK 8
AC --
CW --
RB --
AR --
MR --
AA --


Sales (in millions):

10.0
--
30.0


Airplay (in millions):

3.0 m


Awards:


Silent Night

Bing Crosby

Review:

We might never have heard this popular Christmas carol if it hadn’t been for mice rendering a church organ useless. Popular accounts have suggested that mice ate out the bellows of the organ SF at Nikolaus-Kirche (Church of St. Nicholas) in Oberndorf, Austria. WK Father Joseph Mohr was concerned about having music for the 1818 Christmas Eve service. He’d written a poem called “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht” and presented it to his friend Franz Xaver Gruber, a headmaster and amateur composer, hoping he could do something with it for guitar. SF The pair gave the first public performance of the song with only Mohr’s guitar accompaniment at the service. SF

Since then, the song has become one of the most popular in the world, having been translated into more than 44 languages. WK However, it is John Freeman Young’s English translation published in 1859 that is the most frequently sung today. WK

It became the most recorded song of the first half of the 20th century. PM In Britain, it is the most recorded Christmas song of all time. SF To date, it has been recorded by more than 300 artists including Elvis Presley, Simon & Garfunkel, Linda Ronstadt, Boyz II Men, Stevie Nicks, Tori Amos, Mannheim Steamroller, Mahalia Jackson, Andrea Bocelli, Sinead O’Connor, and Brad Paisley. WK

The best known version is the 1935 recording by Bing Crosby with sales estimated as high as 30 million. PM Bing proved to be successful with a few other tunes as well; he sold over 300 million records with well over 300 charted songs over 35 years time (1928-63) and landed 36 songs at #1, more than any other recording act in history. PM


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Last updated September 20, 2011.