“Silent Night”

An Austrian Christmas Carol in German and English

See “About ‘Stille Nacht'” below for more about the history of this carol. For the literal English translation of the original German “Stille Nacht” see “Stille Nacht” – Part 1.

John Freeman Young’s “Silent Night” (1863)


The altar of the “Silent Night” chapel in Oberndorf, Austria. PHOTO: H. Flippo

The original words and music for “Stille Nacht” (“Silent Night”) were created in Austria by Joseph Mohr (words) and Franz Xaver Gruber (melody). Following its first performance in Oberndorf, Austria in 1818, it took decades before “Stille Nacht” became the worldwide Christmas classic it is today. The English lyrics were not written until 1863 by the Episcopal priest John Freeman Young. Today “Stille Nacht” is sung in almost every language on the planet.

See more about this carol below.

Musik: Franz Xaver Gruber, 1818
Text: Joseph Mohr, 1816/1818

In Oberndorf, Austria
Melody: Franz Xaver Gruber, 1818
Words: Joseph Mohr, 1816/1818
English by John Freeman Young, 1863
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!
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
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!
Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heav’nly hosts sing Alleluia;
Christ the Savior is born
Christ the Savior is born
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!
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
Today only verses 1, 6 and 2 (on the left) from the original Joseph Mohr version (1816) are sung.
MORE > The Original German lyrics for this carol with a literal English translation
MORE > German Christmas Carol Lyrics

About “Silent Night”


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Note: This CD has 20 carols in German, including ‘Stille Nacht’!

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.

MORE: Austria’s “Stille Nacht” (this site)

VIDEO > “Stille Nacht” – Video clip (ORF – original melody)

More | German Christmas Carol Lyrics in German and English