|Performer||Alma Gluck (soprano)
Paul Reimers (tenor)
|Matrix no.||1OR 87544 5 2|
The Norwegian Institute of Recorded Sound is on Facebook. Like us to receive updates on news regarding sound and recording history, as well as the activities and events of the Institute.
Silent Night is one of the most cherished and popular Christmas songs around the world, and thus a natural addition to our calendar.
Most people might know the story of how the assistant pastor of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria, Josef Mohr (1792-1848), on Christmas Eve in 1818 asked the organist Franz Xaver Gruber (1787-1863) to compose a melody to a text Mohr had written in 1816.
Gruber composed the music on Christmas Eve, and the song was performed by the two men with guitar accompaniment at midnight mass on Christmas Day.
The song soon spread from Oberndorf to Zillertal, from Zillertal to Leipzig before it was finally written down in 1831. It had been slightly changed over the years, and in time many believed the melody was an old Tyrolean folk melody.
Some draw lines from the Gruber compositions, such as Silent Night, to the Italian pastoral tradition, for instance in the use of compound meters, where each beat is divided into three parts instead of two. We heard this style in Handel's Pastoral Symphony from Messiah as well, which we presented the on December 2.
In the recording we've picked out today the carol is performed in duet by Alma Gluck (1884-1938) and Paul Reimers (1877-1942). The lyrics are not the most common lyrics, which are the ones John F. Young wrote around 1859, but another version by an unknown translater, published around 1873.
Silent night, peaceful night!
All things sleep, shepherds keep
Watch on Bethlehem's silent hill;
And unseen, while all is still,
Angels watch above,
Angels watch above.
Bright the star shines afar,
Guiding trav'lers on their way;
Who their gold and incense bring,
Offerings to the promised King,
Child of David's line,
Child of David's line.
Light around! joyous sound!
Angel voices wake the air;
"Glory be to God in heav'n;
Peace on earth to you is giv'n,
Jesus the Saviour is come,
Jesus the Saviour is come."
We would sing the German words to "Silent Night" every Christmas Eve. We would have a desert after Christmas Eve service where we would light the red Christmas Candle in the Advent Wreath. My dad would then read the Christmas Story from Luke in German. We would then sing "Silent Night" and walk into the middle room holding candles where the Christmas tree was. We could not go into this room until that moment. All the curtains were closed and drapes drawn for the week before. We would see the tree with the presents underneath for the first time. I can still sing the first verse from memory in German after all these years.
Last update: 11.04.2011 12:28. Webmaster
We strive for excellence. Do contact us with comments and suggestions.
©Norwegian Institute of Recorded Sound, Bjergsted Terrasse 5a, 4007 Stavanger, Norway. Phone: (+47) 51 83 40 60 / 51 83 40 62