December 15, 2019

Sentimental Silent Night - Tracy Krauss

Silent Night is probably my favourite Christmas Carol of all time. Although I also gravitate toward carols in a minor key such as What Child Is This,  or O Come O Come Emmanuel, there is something about the reverence and simplicity of Silent Night that still appeals to me even with all the newer, more modern songs to choose from.

Perhaps one of the reasons I love this song so much is the story behind it. I have heard it told in different ways, but my favourite rendition is from an illustrated children's book that goes like this. Sometime around Christmas in 1818 in the Austrian village of Oberndorf, the unthinkable happened. The church organ gave up the ghost! The minister wrote this simple song to be accompanied by guitar so that they would still have music for the Christmas Eve service.

The song grew in popularity until it has become one of the most beloved Christmas Carols of all time, having been translated into many languages the world over. There are stories of it being sung across no-man's land during WW1, in Russian prison camps, and even during the Korean War. It so beautifully and simply depicts the nativity along with the miracle of Jesus birth that it is no wonder it is such a favourite.

I think I also have a soft spot for this carol because it reminds me of my own childhood. My father was from German heritage and when I was young we used to listen to a German child star named Heintje. We had several records, but my favourite was his Christmas album, and of course his rendition of Stille Nacht. (Click to hear  Heintje singing Stille Nacht ) 

Although my dad did not speak German to us so I did not really learn a second language (one of the things that irks me to this day!) he did teach us the words to this song. My daughters and I have often sung it together (in German, of course) in multi-part harmony, either for Christmas Eve services or other occasions. Even if we don't get the opportunity to sing for others, it has become a tradition that we at least sing it for ourselves.

I love Silent Night in English or in German. It is one of those songs that brings up warm memories for me and strikes a sentimental chord no matter which version I hear.

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Tracy Krauss writes from her home in northern BC and is currently serving as InScribe's president. Visit her website tracykrauss.com for more.

10 comments:

  1. "There are stories of it being sung across no-man's land during WW1, in Russian prison camps, and even during the Korean War."

    Even war can't stop it.

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  2. Tracy,
    Silent Night is one of my favourite carols as well. I have some German heritage, but never learned the song in German. Perhaps I will have to do that!

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  3. Now I will have that beautiful carol on repeat in my head, while I decorate the house for Christmas! Not a bad thing. Thanks for sharing a family Christmas story, Tracy.

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  4. What a lovely family tradition, Tracy! "Silent Night" is one of my favourite Christmas carols, as well. I'm familiar with the story of its creation by an Austrian minister, but I hadn't heard about the other stories that you shared.

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  5. How beautiful that you can sing your favourite Carol in another language and with to daughters.

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  6. Thanks for your reminder of how "Silent Night" is the symbol of Christmas. I remember one missionary who taught the German words to our school children while I was in Colombia--and I still remember some of the words. Have a wonderful Christmas!

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  7. Thank you, Tracy, for this little peek at a family tradition you and your family enjoy at Christmas. I imagine you are all great singers. :)

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