Silent Night Hymn Study

This Silent Night Hymn Study includes everything you need to study the hymn in one easy download.

Image of greenery with pine cones and red Christmas balls lying beside several pages of sheet music; text overlay that says "Silent Night hymn study unit."

Hymn study is a simple way to pass the heritage of hymns on to our children. Use this unit study to help your family learn more about the hymn “Silent Night.”

Silent Night Hymn History

It was December 23, 1818. A group of traveling actors had come to the village of Oberndorf, Austria, to re-enact the Christmas story in the small Church of St. Nicholas.

Unfortunately, the church’s organ wasn’t working that night. No one knows for sure why, but some people think that recent flooding in the village had damaged the organ. Others think that mice had caused the damage.

Because the organ wasn’t working, the actors performed their Christmas drama in a village home instead of in the church. Joseph Mohr, a young priest who had moved to Oberndorf just the year before, was touched by the performance.

He decided to walk home the long way that night. His path took him across a hill overlooking the village.

As he looked down at the peaceful, snow-covered village, Mr. Mohr remembered a poem he had written two years before. The poem (entitled “Stille Nacht” in German) was about the night when the angels appeared to the shepherds, announcing Jesus’ birth.

He thought that the words of his poem might make a good carol for his church’s Christmas Eve service the following night. But he had no tune to go with the words.

Mr. Mohr, who was a gifted violinist and guitarist, could have composed a tune himself, but he decided to ask a friend for help.

The next day he went to see his friend, Franz Gruber, a schoolmaster and organist in a nearby village. He asked Gruber to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment for his poem for the service that night.

Mr. Gruber had only a few hours to compose a tune, which probably seemed overwhelming. By evening, though, he had completed it.

That night during the Christmas Eve mass at St. Nicholas Church, the two men sang the song together, with Mohr accompanying them on the guitar.

A few weeks later, Karl Mauracher, an organ builder and repairman, arrived in Oberndorf to fix the organ. When the repairs were finished, Franz Gruber stepped up to test the organ. He began playing the simple melody of “Silent Night.”

Mr. Mauracher was so impressed with the melody that he took copies of the music and words back to his own village. There two well-known families of traveling singers heard the song and added it to their Christmas performances.

In 1839 one of those families, the Rainer family, sang “Silent Night” in German outside Trinity Church in New York City. This was the first time the carol was sung in the United States, but it wouldn’t be the last.

John Freeman Young, an Episcopal priest, translated three of the six original verses into English in 1863. Interestingly, he was serving then at the very same Trinity Church where the Rainer family had originally sung the hymn in German 24 years earlier.

One of the most memorable performances of “Silent Night” occurred during the dismal days of World War I. On Christmas Eve in 1914, soldiers at the front lines in Flanders laid down their weapons and sang this song together in French, German, and English.

For that one night, opposing armies forgot their differences as they celebrated the true meaning of Christmas together.

You may also like: I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day Hymn Study

Image of greenery with pine cones and red Christmas balls lying beside several pages of sheet music; text overlay that says "Silent Night."

Silent Night Hymn Lyrics

Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and Child.
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight;
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heav’nly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born!

Silent night, holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.

Silent night, holy night!
Wondrous star, lend thy light;
With the angels let us sing,
Alleluia to our King;
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born!

Hymn Copywork, Notebooking Pages, and More

Copywork pages, notebooking pages, and other printables are now available in one easy download! The Silent Night Hymn Study includes everything you need to study the hymn:

  • hymn history
  • lyrics
  • sheet music
  • links to listen to the hymn
  • review questions to gauge comprehension
  • vocabulary words taken from the hymn
  • copywork and notebooking pages
  • related Scripture to memorize
Image of spiral bound book with greenery, pine cones, and sheet music on the cover with the title "Silent Night."

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