12 Days of Christmas: Silent Night

Guess what- if we’re counting Christmas as day 12, today is Day 1 of the 12 Days of Christmas. 🙂 I might post about partridges later, but in the meantime, I’m posting about one Christmas song per day till Christmas. I’ll include lyrics (so long as they are not still in copyright) and links to videos for variations of each song that I think are great ore noteworthy.

Today’s carol is Silent Night. This song, originally in German (Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht) was composed by Franz Gruber in 1818, with lyrics by Joseph Mohr. The lyrics are pretty well known in English-

Silent Night

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
Heavenly hosts sing Hallelujah
Christ the Saviour is born
Christ the Saviour 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

My all-time favorite arrangement of this song is with a song “Peace Peace”, sung by a second voice at the same as “Silent Night”. I sang the ‘peace’ part in choir in middle school, and I love how it fits against the traditional carol. This recording by Michael Crawford doesn’t do it justice, but I rarely find recordings that capture this arrangement well – http://youtu.be/vNPVP3nG90I

Many people also know the German lyrics, at least somewhat. Here are the German lyrics, not just the first verse, but all six of them.

Stille Nacht

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

Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!
Gottes Sohn! O wie lacht
Lieb’ aus deinem göttlichen Mund,
Da schlägt uns die rettende Stund,
Christus in deiner Geburt!
Christus in deiner Geburt!

Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!
Die der Welt Heil gebracht,
Aus des Himmels goldenen Höhn
Uns der Gnaden Fülle läßt seh’n
Jesum in Menschengestalt,
Jesum in Menschengestalt.

Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!
Wo sich heut alle Macht
Väterlicher Liebe ergoß
Und als Bruder huldvoll umschloß
Jesus die Völker der Welt,
Jesus die Völker der Welt.

Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!
Lange schon uns bedacht,
Als der Herr vom Grimme befreit,
In der Väter urgrauer Zeit
Aller Welt Schonung verhieß,
Aller Welt Schonung verhieß.

Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!
Hirten erst kundgemacht
Durch der Engel Alleluja.
Tönt es laut bei Ferne und Nah:
Christus, der Retter ist da!
Christus, der Retter ist da!

Here is one of my favorite German videos for this song, The King’s Singers- http://youtu.be/MbhxZOOXLvU

My favorite language for this song,other than German or English, is Irish. Celtic Woman, Celtic Thunder, and various Irish singers have recorded this one, and while trying to read Irish phonetically may cause severe headaches, the spoken words sound pretty enough.

Oíche Chiúin

Oíche chiúin, oíche Mhic Dé,
Cách ‘na suan, dís araon,
Dís is dílse ag faire le spéis,
Naí beag gnaoi-gheal ceanán tais caomh
Críost ina chodladh go séimh,
Críost ina chodladh go séimh.

Oíche chiúin, oíche Mhic Dé,
Aoirí ar dtús chuala an scéal,
“Aililiuia” aingil ag glaoch
Cantain Shuairc i ngar is i gcéin
Críost ár Slánaitheoir féin,
Críost ár Slánaitheoir féin.

Oíche chiúin, oíche Mhic Dé,
Mac Dé bhí, gáire a bhéil,
Tuar dá rá ‘s dá lán-chur i gcéill,
Ann gur tháinig tráth chinn a tséin,
Críost a theacht ar an saol,
Críost a theacht ar an saol.

Here is a youtube video of Enya, doing the Irish “Silent Night” – http://youtu.be/rigkhYdc-F8

Celtic Thunder also recorded this song partially in Irish – http://youtu.be/nhG5gs7IRvA

Have you sung this song in concert before? What language did you sing it in?

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About Ravenmount

Independent music blogger/arts enthusiast/theorist currently working in Fort Collins, Colorado.
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