Legend

Legend has it that the composition of the song ‚Silent night! Holy night!’ was  due to a defective organ in the church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf on Christmas Eve of the year 1818. Supposedly a mouse nibbled through the bellows rendering them useless. To rescue the musical program for Christmas mass, a guitar was used to accompany voices in song.

The farther back that a significant event dates, the more legends accumulate around it- the result is that it becomes trivialized and its significance obscured. It thereby loses its meaning and implications for today!

In Gruber's time, the guitar was an instrument played by people on the street, in taverns and in normal everyday life. Yet, it was this everyday instrument that Gruber and Mohr used after Christmas mass in 1818 to express their faith before the manger: the faith that God became one of us through a child in need.

“Silent Night” was no substitute for the liturgy. It was an expression of faith that arose independent of ceremony. A song in the language of the people (German) would have had no place in the traditional Latin liturgy. The legend of the broken organ trivializes this accomplishment!