The words for the Christmas carol we know as Silent Night were first set down on paper in 1816 in the tiny Alpine village of Mariapfarr, Austria. The fame of this composition spread throughout the world, and nearly two centuries later, people are still touched by both the simplicity and the strength of its message.
With music added by Franz Xaver Gruber in 1818, Joseph Mohr created a song so powerful, it caused a World War I battle to temporarily cease as British and German soldiers sang of heavenly peace on Christmas Eve.
During World War II, fighting was suspended on many fronts while people around the globe turned to their radios on Christmas Eve to hear opera star Ernestine Schumann-Heink sing Stille Nacht. In addition to her status as an international opera star, Mme. Schumann-Heink was a mother with one son fighting for the Axis and another son fighting for the Allies. Her rendition of this inspired carol, first sung in the village of Oberndorf, Austria, had the power to bring a few moments of peace to a troubled world.
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