Bing Crosby – Silent Night

This song is not only my favorite Christmas Carol… I think it’s up there with the best songs ever written. I hope everyone has a great Christmas/Holiday.

There are over 26,000 different versions of “Silent Night” on Spotify, meaning you could listen to a different rendition of the carol every night for 72 years.

Halfway through December 1818, the church organ in St. Nicholas in Oberndorf, 11 miles north of Salzburg in what is now Austria, broke (a popular version of the story claims that mice had eaten out the bellows). The curate, 26-year-old Josef Mohr, realized it couldn’t be repaired in time to provide music on Christmas Eve. He told his troubles to his friend, a headmaster and amateur composer named Franz Gruber, while giving him as a present a poem he had written two years earlier. Gruber was so taken by the rhythm of the poem that he set it to music, and on Christmas Eve there was music after all. Mohr played his guitar while the pair sang the song. It was the first public performance of “Stille Nacht” or as we know it “Silent Night.”

It is believed that Silent Night has been translated into over 300 languages around the world, and it is one of the most popular carols of all time.

From Songfacts

Bing Crosby’s version became his best-seller of the 1930s.

Music licensing company PPL announced in December 2010 that this carol tops the list of Britain’s “most recorded Christmas song of all time.” Said Mike Dalby, Lead Reporting Analyst at PPL: “Silent Night is a beautiful carol which encapsulates the feeling of Christmas entirely. Everyone from punk band The Dickies right through to Sinead O’Connor has recorded it, which exemplifies just how much it resonates with all different types of artists.”

According to PPL, Sinead O’Connor’s 1991 recording was the most popular version of the carol in Britain.

When the organ builder finally did show up to repair the St. Nicholas organ, he was given a copy of the “Silent Night” composition and brought it home. From there, traveling folk singers got a hold of it and began incorporating the carol into their repertoire. It didn’t make its way to America until 1839.

As the song gained traction throughout Europe, Franz Gruber composed several different orchestral arrangements. He donated all profits from the carol to local charities for children and the elderly, and eventually died penniless.

According to Steve Sullivan’s Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings, Crosby, a devout Catholic, refused to record the religious song, arguing it would be “like cashing in on the church or the Bible.” Crosby met with Father Richard Ranaghan, a priest trying to raise money for overseas missions, and decided to donate the royalties to the cause. But Ranaghan died in a car accident later that year, so the money went to several charities throughout the US and abroad.

This song lends itself to interpretation because the first four bars are all on the same chord. Jim Brickman explains: “There’s room to treat it dynamically in a different way: in the tempo, in the sounds and silences, in the time signature.”

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.
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.

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

7 thoughts on “Bing Crosby – Silent Night”

  1. Great Christmas carol and background story, Max!

    Among other Christmas traditions when growing up in Germany was to lighten the candles on the Christmas tree in my grandma’s living room on December 24 in the evening and sing Christmas carols, accompanied my acoustic guitar playing. Our harmony singing didn’t exactly match The Beatles, but these were great times anyway!

    After singing half a dozen songs, which included “Stille Nacht”, we would exchange presents. After what we call the “Bescherung”, we would have a simple dinner and spend a few additional hours together before going to church for late night mass.

    Admittedly, we mostly did the latter to make my grandma happy, who was deeply catholic. That being said, while I could have done without the priest, I always enjoyed the singing of the church choir and the festive atmosphere.

    BTW, my favorite rendition of “Silent Night” is by The Temptations – their harmony singing was just sheer magic!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can’t wait till Bailey tells me what they did. I talked to him and her parents told me what a great person he was…that made me feel really good.

      That sounds like a great Christmas Christian. I go to Church but not a Catholic Church…we sing with no instruments so it is pretty cool. I’ve never met a priest.

      This is my favorite carol hands down.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s the quintessential Christmas song: simple melody, simple lyrics, everybody knows it, everybody loves it. You might have seen this: Werner Klemperer and John Banner singing “Stille Nacht” (Silent Night) on a Bing Crosby Christmas special, followed by Robert Clary singing a French carol. All three were Jewish…

    Like

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