In an Austrian hamlet stands a little church
whose musical bells can be heard for miles
calling the people to worship.
A Christmas Present from Franz Gruber
Around Anno Domini 1812, a small town's organist
hand trained his choir for an oratorio
to be presented during Christmas Mass
for the edification of clergy and town folk alike.
On entering the choir loft for rehearsal one night
the merry singer troop stopped at a dismaying sight;
the organ bellows were gnawed straight through
by hungry mice! - now what to do
Franz Gruber, the organist, was in utter despair,
He saw the bellows were beyond repair.
He trudged home through deep snow, swallowing many a tear;
there would be no music for Christmas, no carols, no cheer.
As he paced up and down in his room dejectedly
his eyes caught an out-of-tune, old and forgotten guitar,
but when he sadly plucked on its rusty strings
a tune seemed to come to him like on angel's wings.
Father Mohr felt empathy with Franz's plight;
he offered to forge some lyrics and to stay overnight;
Suitable lyrics were wanted for the new song to be
words that would nestle and flow with its melody.
They spent the night humming, singing, and strumming,
jotting down notes, groping for rhyme and verse;
forgetting their cares and the very late hour,
they rested a minute and then resumed to rehearse.
When morning dawned there had been given birth
to a new song to be treasured by heaven and earth.
The church was packed, - the faithful with delight
heard for the very first time "Silent Night"
On Christmas Eve each year, due homage is paid
to composer Franz Gruber, and a wreath is laid
On his grave in the city Hallein - a hallowed site
while the town brass band blows softly 'Silent Night'.
My darling brother Karli walks around
This grave to put on it the yearly wreath,
On Holy Eve, while brass and wood pipes sound,
Where "Silent Night's" composer is buried.
So think of me dear friends on Holy Eve,
When 'Silent Night' is ringing in your space
And lost my love, my husband dear and grieve
But give the new born Saviour laud and praise.
My great-great-great-great-aunt was a soloist soprano in Franz Gruber's choir and so excited about the Oratorio and her aria in the Oratorio which never took place,- and I was told she fainted when she saw the mice. But, were it not for the mice, we would never have gotten 'Silent Night'. Incredible!