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German Christmas Carols:
“Stille Nacht”

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  Song Lyrics > Christmas Carol Lyrics > “Stille Nacht” > Silent Night


See "About 'Stille Nacht'" below for more about the history of this carol. For the standard English version by John Freeman Young, see Part 2.

Also see the video of this carol below.


Music: Franz Xaver Gruber, 1818
Words: Joseph Mohr, 1816/1818

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Hirten erst kundgemacht
Durch der Engel Halleluja,
Tönt es laut von fern und nah:
Christ, der Retter ist da!
Christ, der Retter ist da!

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht
Lieb' aus deinem göttlichen Mund,
Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund'.
Christ, in deiner Geburt!
Christ, in deiner Geburt!

Literal English prose
translation by Hyde Flippo

Silent night, holy night
All is sleeping, alone watches
Only the close, most holy couple.
Blessed boy in curly hair,
Sleep in heavenly peace!
Sleep in heavenly peace!

Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds just informed
By the angels' hallelujah,
It rings out far and wide:
Christ the Savior is here!
Christ the Savior is here!

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, oh how laughs
Love out of your divine mouth,
Because now the hour of salvation
   strikes for us.
Christ, in Thy birth!
Christ, in Thy birth!


NEXT > "Stille Nacht" Part 2 - the standard English translation by John Freeman Young, and more about the history of this carol.

LISTEN > Stille Nacht - Melody for "Silent Night" (Midi)


The world's most popular Christmas carol was first sung in Austria on Christmas Eve 1818. The melody was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber (1787-1863). The words came from the pen of pastor Joseph Franz Mohr (1792-1848). The song was almost lost forever after its first performance in a church in Oberndorf (near Salzburg) to Gruber's guitar accompaniment.

The first known performance of "Stille Nacht" in the United States took place near New York City's Trinity Church. In 1839 the Rainer family singers of Austria included the German version of "Stille Nacht" in their repertoire during an appearance at the Alexander Hamilton Monument near the church, some 24 years before an English version of the carol would be published.

Today's most popular English version of "Silent Night" was translated by the Episcopal priest John Freeman Young, assigned at the time to the same Trinity Church associated with the 1839 performance of "Stille Nacht." Reverend Young apparently enjoyed translating European hymns and carols into English, and it is his 1863 "Silent Night" text that is found today in most hymnals and Christmas carol collections published in the English-speaking world.

The original Franz Gruber melody has also been altered slightly, probably during the time when it was being performed in Austria and Bavaria during the 19th century. To hear Gruber's original melody, see the video link below.

Adapted from the German Way (with permission):
Austria's 'Stille Nacht'

MORE > "Stille Nacht" Part 2 - The standard English version

VIDEO > "Stille Nacht" - Video clip (ORF - original melody)

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