One of the most enjoyable experiences of the Holiday season is listening to or performing the enormous body of celebratory music lovingly written for the Holidays over the centuries. And, each Holiday season, scores of worshipful singers re-create Silent Night, a song born in humble, desperate, eleventh hour circumstances, two centuries ago this year.
And therein lies a tale.
On Christmas Eve, 1818, celebrations of the Christmas holiday were very much on the minds of the people of Oberndorf, Austria as they prepared to gather together for midnight Mass to celebrate the birth of Christ with prayer and song. Foremost on the mind of Curate Joseph Mohr of the Church of St. Nicholas, however, were more worrying concerns; he had discovered that the church organ was badly damaged and, no matter how hard the pedals were pumped, only a scratchy wheeze could be cajoled from it. And repair of the aging instrument in time for the Christmas celebrations was, alas, out of the question. [Read more…]