It is only right that at this time of year I share my favourite Christmas Carol, Silent Night. As soprano I usually get to sing this solo, but my moment of glory is not what makes this song special. Everything about this song, from its creation, quick adoption all over Europe and finally its finest hour in the trenches of the First World War are special. The only thing unremarkable about this song is that it’s just a simple lullaby.
The history of a the Austrian pastor who wrote Silent Night with the help of the choir master when the bellows for the church organ was damaged by mice, is under some dispute. Compared to the boisterous songs or glory and worship popular as carols, Silent Night is better sung by a small group with little accompaniment so the legend of it first being performed by a choir and guitar holds true. That it quickly spread for a small parish church to become the favourite carol of emperors in 30 short years is not disputed.
The story of the song floating over British lines from the German trenches the first Christmas of the First World War is a little firmer though details change with the telling. That one song unified two warring lines even if for one day is central to the story as is both coming together to share Christmas with their enemy.
For me Silent Night is like a simple country boy done good. It’s come along way from an Austrian parish church but all the fame in the world has not diminished this song’s natural good heart.
Other songs in the Counting the beat… Countdown: