Silent Night Chronology
(Prof. Mag. Josef A. Standl)
Franz Xaver Gruber was born on 25th November 1787 in Hochburg, Steinpointsölde, Unterweizberg 9. He was christened and registered in the baptismal register under the name „Conrad Xaver“, which he later changed to „Franz Xaver“.
Josephus Franciscus Mohr was born on 11th December 1792, son of a knitter, Anna Schoiberin, and Franz Mohr (Moor), a musketeer and deserter.
1807 - 1829
Franz Xaver Gruber is a teacher in Arnsdorf; (decree of 12th November 1807). In 1816 he accepts the position of organist in the newly-formed parish of Oberndorf.
Joseph Mohr is ordained to priesthood on 21st August 1815.
Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden
Joseph Mohr is temporarily parish priest in Ramsau, near Berchtesgaden.
1815 – 1817
Joseph Mohr is coadjutor in the parish of Mariapfarr.
Joseph Mohr composes a poem whilst in Mariapfarr, Lungau region, which later becomes the text to „Silent Night“.
1817 – 1819
Joseph Mohr is coadjutor in the parish of St. Nicola in Oberndorf.
The original script, „Autograph 1“, composed by Franz Xaver Gruber for 2 voices, choir and guitar accompaniment is written on 24th December 1818: - meanwhile this has been lost.
The Carol „ Silent Night! Holy Night!“ is sung for the first time on Christmas Eve in the church of St. Nicola in Oberndorf, near Salzburg.
1819 – 1820
Joseph Mohr is coadjutor in the parish of Kuchl.
Waldring in Tirol
The Carol with seven verses is to be found in a hymn book, (now missing) dated 22nd July 1819 and compiled by Blasius Wimmer, organist and teacher in Waidring.
It is thought that an organ builder, Carl Mauracher, brought the song with him to Waidring, where he rested on his way home over Pass Strub to Fügen in the Zillertal, after having repaired the organs in Oberndorf and Arnsdorf.
Fügen im Zillertal
The Ur-Rainer singers sing the Carol in the church in Fügen on Christmas Eve 1819.
1820 – 1821
Joseph Mohr is coadjutor in the parish of Golling.
1821 – 1822
Joseph Mohr is coadjutor in the parish of Vigaun and temporary priest in Adnet and Krispl.
1822 – 1824
Joseph Mohr is coadjutor in Anthering.
Johann Baptist Weindl, member of the cathedral choir and city parish choir leader in Salzburg, puts the Carol to paper.
Fügen im Zillertal
The Rainer Singers sing the Carol on the occasion of a visit from Emperor Franz I and Tzar Alexander I in Earl Dönhoff’s castle, (today known as „Bubenburg“), in Fügen.
1824 – 1827
Joseph Mohr is coadjutor in the parish of Eugendorf.
Hof bei Salzburg
Joseph Mohr is assistant priest and area administrator in the parish of Hof.
1827 – 1837
Joseph Mohr is assistant priest and area administrator (1827 – 1828) and priest (1828 – 1837) in the parish of Hintersee, where he manages a parish independently for the first time .
1829 – 1835
Franz Xaver Gruber is teacher and organist in Berndorf.
Autograph III for two solo voices, choir and organ, Gruber‘s copy for a teacher, Andreas Wagner, in Uttendorf, which in the meanwhile has been lost . What remains is a printed edition of „The Holy Night“, a Christmas play for children, issued by Johann Georg Huber in Linz in 1885.
The newspaper, „Leipziger Tagblatt“ writes on 15th December 1832, that the Strasser family had performed the Carol at a concert. It is possible that the two singing family groups, Rainer, (Fügen) and Strasser (Laimach) had already sung it on tour before this.
Supposedly this year the publisher, A.R.Friese (Dresden and Leipzig), prints the Carol under the title „Stille Nacht!“ in a music score called „ Vier ächte Tyroler Lieder“ (four genuine tyrolean songs), - although without naming the composers and considerably modified.
1835 – 1863
Franz Xaver Gruber is choir leader, organist and parish assistant in Hallein (as from 2nd July 1835) and lives with his family in the „Mesnerhaus“ (sacristan ), opposite the town parish church. In 1848 he is a founder member of the Hallein Choir which was formed by his son, Franz.
1836 – 1843
Joseph Wernspacher, priest in Forstau, writes the Carol down.
Autograph IV appears 12th December 1836, composed for two voices, four-part choir, flute, two clarinets, bassoon, two horns, two violins, a viola, double bass and organ. It is now to be found in the Silent Night archives in the Keltenmuseum (celtic museum) Hallein.
1837 – 1848
Joseph Mohr is priest in the parish of Wagrain, where he also dies on 4th December 1848.
The Rainer singers take the Carol to America, where it is sung on Christmas Day 1839 in New York, in front of the Alexander Hamilton Memorial in the graveyard of Trinity Church.
Uttendorf im Innviertel
Johann Schober, a teacher, writes the Carol down.
Autograph V for two solo voices, four-part choir, two horns, two violins, violoncello and organ, the so-called „Hornfassung“ ( horn version) is to be found in the Silent Night archives in the Keltenmuseum (celtic museum) in Hallein.
Joseph Mohr dies of pneumonia on 4th December 1848 in Wagrain.
The Royal Prussian Court Ensemble Berlin researches the creator of the Carol in the Benedictine Abbey of St. Peter, Salzburg. Upon which Gruber writes the „Authentische Veranlassung“ (authentic origination), dated 30th December 1854. A copy again to be found in the Stille Nacht archives in the celtic museum, Hallein.
Autograph VI, which Gruber sends to Berlin, along with his „ Authentische Veranlassung“, - has been lost.
Autograph II for two singers and choir, without accompaniment, can also be seen in the Stille Nacht archives in the celtic museum, Hallein.
Autograph VII for two voices and „light“ organ accompaniment has been part of a collection of music in the Salzburg Museum since 1995.
Franz Xaver Gruber dies in Hallein at the age of 76.
The Carol is included in an „official“ hymn book for churches.
The parish church of St. Nicola, where „Silent Night“ was first performed in 1818, is finally pulled down.
Laying of foundations for the Silent Night Chapel on the site where St. Nicola’s church once stood and where the Carol was first sung in 1818. Start of construction - 1925. Plans to lay the foundations in 1918 at a 100-year celebration had to be postponed due to the first world war.
The sculptor and priest Joseph Mühlbacher designs a memorial to Joseph Mohr and Franz Xaver Gruber, which is placed in the parish church Oberndorf in 1928.
It is later moved to the church square.
The Silent Night Memorial Chapel in Oberndorf is inaugurated on 16th August. It stands on the ruins of the church of St Nicola, where the Carol was sung for the first time in 1818.
Constitutive meeting of the Silent Night Society on 15th May 1972.
Festivities celebrating the foundation on 10th December 1972 in the Salzburg Residenz.
The only autograph written by Joseph Mohr himself is identified in Salzburg and presented on 8th December. It shows in writing „Text von Joseph Mohr mpia Coadjutor 1816“ ( text by Joseph Mohr mpia coadjutor 1816). The Autograph was written before 1830 and research shows that the dating „1816“ conforms with the time of composition. The autograph also includes a text „ Melody by Fr.Xav.Gruber“,
proving the authorship of the Carol.