Salzburg, Austria

While hordes of tourists flow through Mozart’s birthplace here and crowd buses for “Sound of Music” tours, fewer connect the Salzburg area with the famous hymn. Visits to sites connected with “Silent Night” deepen its meaning and allow a view of modern Austria and a strong sense of the 18th century.Oberndorf, Austria — December 22, 1818
It was just two days before Christmas in 1818 when the organ bellows at St. Nikolas Church in Oberndorf, 11 miles north of Salzburg, rotted through making the organ inoperable.  Father Joseph Mohr, Parish Priest wrote a poem and asked organist and choir director, Franz Gruber, and the parish choir to set it to music, knowing the congregation would expect music on Christmas Eve at midnight mass.  In his study in the village of Arnsdorf, Franz Gruber looked out over the snowy fields from his window.  Then, as he read the poem, he began to hum and then sing the poem, “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht….”. A few hours before midnight mass, Franz headed back to the church to reherse the hymn with Father Mohr and teach the refrain to the choir.Happy Birthday Jesus !