LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - On December 24 it will be 200 years old, and people still sing it today around Christmas time. We’re talking about “Silent Night”.
KLTV spoke with a University Professor to get a little history lesson.
Jim Taylor knows a thing or two about music and music history, which is good since he’s Professor of Fine Arts at LeTourneau University. He says “Silent Night”:
“Was first performed at the St. Nicholas Church in a little Austrian town called Oberndorf bei Salzburg,” Taylor said.
He says the music wasn’t played on an organ, it was a guitar, and he just happens to have one in his office.
“The words were written by the pastor of the St. Nicholas Church, a Joseph Moore, and the melody is by France Gruber,” Taylor stated.
“The original, of course was in German it was “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht”,” Taylor revealed.
And some of the literal translation is:
“Only the close most holy couple, blessed boy in curly hair, sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace. That’s the first verse,” Taylor said.
“That doesn’t rhyme,” I pointed out.
“No, it doesn’t because that’s a literal translation,” he laughed.
It wasn’t translated right away.
“It was first performed in German in the United States,” Taylor said.
“And then it was translated into English in the 1860’s,” Taylor explained.
And now there are different versions.
“There’s a jazz arrangement, there’s some wonderful English arrangements,” Taylor said.
He’s directed several choirs in various arrangements. In fact Taylor like Christmas so much he’s written his own Christmas song.
But we’ll just have to wait a couple centuries to see if that one catches on as well.
Taylor says the St Nicholas Church was flooded several times and was demolished. A memorial chapel was built in 1937 which visitors can go see.
Sunday December 23 at 3:30 pm LeTourneau is inviting the public to Speer Chapel on the LeTourneau campus to sing Christmas carols. There is no charge for the event and lyric sheets will be available.