Text and Music

"Stille Nacht!" - Version Autograph VII

Text: Joseph Mohr, 1816
Melody: Franz Xaver Gruber, 1818

The following is the complete German text from an authentic version of Franz Gruber's known as Autograph VII and written around 1860.

Most English versions of "Silent Night!" include just three verses. These correspond to a translation from the original text of verses 1, 6 and 2, in that order.

Next to the German text below is a direct translation into English. The intent here is not to make translated lyrics which fit the melody, but rather to provide the reader with a better understanding of the original German text.

  1. Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht! Alles schläft; einsam wacht Nur das traute heilige Paar. Holder Knab im lockigten Haar, Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh! Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!
  2. Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht! Gottes Sohn! O wie lacht Lieb´ aus deinem göttlichen Mund, Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund`. Jesus in deiner Geburt! Jesus in deiner Geburt!
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht! Hirten erst kundgemacht Durch der Engel Alleluja, Tönt es laut bei Ferne und Nah: Jesus der Retter ist da! Jesus der Retter ist da!
  1. Silent night! Holy night!
    All are sleeping, alone and awake
    Only the intimate holy pair,
    Lovely boy with curly hair,
    Sleep in heavenly peace!
    Sleep in heavenly peace!
  2. Silent night! Holy night!
    Son of God, O how he laughs
    Love from your divine mouth,
    Then it hits us - the hour of salvation.
    Jesus at your birth!
    Jesus at your birth!
  3. Silent night! Holy night!
    Which brought salvation to the world,
    From Heaven's golden heights,
    Mercy's abundance was made visible to us:
    Jesus in human form,
    Jesus in human form.
  4. Silent night! Holy night!
    Where on this day all power
    of fatherly love poured forth
    And like a brother lovingly embraced
    Jesus the peoples of the world,
    Jesus the peoples of the world.
  5. Silent night! Holy night!
    Already long ago planned for us,
    When the Lord frees from wrath
    Since the beginning of ancient times
    A salvation promised for the whole world.
    A salvation promised for the whole world.
  6. Silent night! Holy night!
    To shepherds it was first made known
    By the angel, Alleluia;
    Sounding forth loudly far and near:
    Jesus the Savior is here!
    Jesus the Savior is here!

Autografa VII (Hallein 1860 circa) Fonte: Denkmäler der Musik in Salzburg Band 4, S.17 (“Monumenti della musica a Salisburgo, Volume 4, pag. 17“) (Copyright: Comes Verlag)

Recording of the German version "Stille Nacht! Heil'ge Nacht" according to the autograph from Joseph Mohr; recorded and made available by Austrian Public Television ORF (Dec. 8, 1995)


Gruber Autografa II

"SILENT NIGHT!" versions from the hands of the creators

Including the original autographed score from the hand of Gruber, we are aware of a total of eight autographed versions of the song from the hands of the creators. The following are brief descriptions of these.

Gruber-Autograph I

Original score by Franz Gruber written on December 24, 1818; D-Dur, 6/8 time, for two solo voices and choir, with guitar accompaniment. Location: lost.

Gruber-Autograph II

Undated score by Franz Gruber, estimated to be from around 1854; D-Dur, 6/8 time; for 2 solo voices and choir, without accompaniment; 5 verses (the 3rd verse of the original is missing). Location: Silent Night Archives, Hallein.

Gruber-Autograph III

Undated score by Franz Gruber, estimated to be from around 1830; 6/8 time; for 2 solo voices and choir, with organ accompaniment. Location: lost.

Gruber-Autograph IV

Score by Franz Gruber dated Dec. 12, 1836; with title: "II. Geistliche Lieder / auf die heilige / Christnacht, (Nr. 2)" ("Spiritual Songs for the Holy Christmas Eve"); Es-Dur, 6/8 time; for 4 voices, 2 violins, viola, flute, bassoon, 2 clarinets, 2 French horns, cello and organ; 6 verses. Location: Silent Night Archives, Hallein.

Gruber-Autograph V

Undated score by Franz Gruber, estimated to be from around 1845; with title: "Weihnachtslied" ("Christmas Carol"); D-Dur, 6/8 time; for 2 solo voices with mixed choir and accompaniment by a stringed trio, 2 horns and organ; 1 verse of text (verse 1 of original). Location: Silent Night Archives, Hallein.

Gruber-Autograph VI

Score by Franz Gruber, dated Dec. 30, 1854; the score accompanied Gruber's "Authentic Account" response to the inquiry from the Royal Court Chapel of Berlin as to the origin of the song. Location: lost.

Gruber-Autograph VII

Undated score by Franz Gruber, estimated to be from around 1860; with title: "Kirchenlied / auf die / heilige Christnacht" ("Hymn for the Holy Christmas Eve"); D-dur, 6/8 time; for soprano and alto voices with "quiet organ accompaniment;" 6 verses. Location: Salzburg Museum, Salzburg.

Mohr-Autograph

Undated score by Joseph Mohr, estimated to have been written between 1820 and 1825; with title: "Weynachts=Lied" ("Christmas Carol"); D-dur, 6/8 time; for 2 voices with guitar accompaniment; 6 verses. Location: Salzburg Museum, Salzburg.

Autographed version from Joseph Mohr, Salzburg Museum

Gruber-Autograph V

Gruber Autografa V

Gruber-Autograph VII

Gruber Autografa VII

Mohr-Autograph

Mohr Autografa

References:

Gassner, Josef, Franz Xaver Grubers Autographen von Stille Nacht Heilige Nacht mit der Geschichte des Liedes ("Franz Xaver Gruber's Autographed Versions of 'Silent Night! Holy Night!' with the History of the Song"), Oberndorf, 1968. (In German.).
Hintermaier, Ernst, ed., Franz Xaver Gruber / Joseph Mohr: Weihnachtslied "Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!" Die autographen Fassungen und die zeitgenössischen Überlieferungen ("Christmas Carol 'Silent Night! Holy Night!' - The Autographed Versions and Contemporary Transcriptions"); published by the Silent Night Society in the series Denkmäler der Musik in Salzburg, Band 4; Comes Verlag, Bad Reichenhall, 1987. (In German.) .
Hochradner, Thomas and Gerhard Walterskirchen, ed., Weihnachtslied 'Stille Nacht! Heil´ge Nacht!' Faksimile der frühesten autographen Fassung (Handschrift von Joseph Mohr ("Christmas Carol 'Silent Night! Holy Night!'; Facsimile of the Earliest Autographed Version, Signed by Joseph Mohr"), published by the Salzburg Museum, Selke Verlag, Salzburg, 1995. (In German.)

Order Silent Night publications