Silent night! Holy night! Did you know that ...

... this Christmas classic was actually created right here in Salzburger Land and very close to two of our ALPS RESORTS?

“Silent Night!” has been heard around the world for over 200 years.

Those were difficult times: Our continent had been dominated by war, hunger and poverty for decades – and adding to the misery, in 1816 Europe was hit one of the biggest natural catastrophes in history. It was against this backdrop that Joseph Mohr and Franz Xaver Gruber created a masterpiece, “Silent Night!”, which has given hope and assurance to people around the world for more than 200 years. Also on the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage List since 2011.

The creators of the song – Joseph Mohr and Franz Xaver Gruber

Joseph Mohr was born in Salzburg in 1792 under the poorest of circumstances. A vicar responsible for the choir at Salzburg Cathedral recognized the talent of young Joseph and helped him gain admission to the local Gymnasium, where he proved to be one of the best pupils. In addition to his studies, he played the violin and sang in the choir of St. Peter’s Abbey. Mohr completed his theology degree in Salzburg and took holy orders, soon becoming an assistant priest in Mariapfarr. It was there, in 1816, that he penned the 6 verses which would be transformed into the world-famous Christmas song we know today.  

Franz Xaver Gruber was born in the small Upper Austrian community of Hochburg-Ach in 1787. He likewise grew up in impoverished circumstances, though was nurtured by his elementary school teacher, who was excited by the boy’s musical abilities and secretly gave him organ lessons. Though heaven forbid that his father ever catch wind of it! Gruber became a teacher himself and moved to Arnsdorf near Salzburg.

How the Christmas classic was born

The Lungau climate didn’t agree with Joseph Mohr, resulting in him being transferred to Oberndorf close to Salzburg. It was there he met Franz Xaver Gruber, who served as organist in St. Nicholas’s Church in addition to his teaching duties. They became friends and, during Christmas season 1818, Mohr asked his friend to compose a melody to go with his poem. It would appear that Gruber needed only one day at his teacher’s apartment in Arnsdorf to do so: On the evening of Christmas Eve 1818, “Silent Night!” was first performed by the two of them in St. Nicholas’s Church right after the midnight mass. Accompanied by a guitar. Presumably also the reason why the song was not performed until the mass was over: At that time, the guitar was very much underappreciated as a “tavern instrument”. For his part, Franz Xaver Gruber felt that “Silent Night!” was a very “simple composition”. Be that as it may, it merely makes it more powerful still!

And how did the song manage to make its way around the world? Carl Mauracher from Fügen im Zillertal happened to be in Oberndorf to repair an organ. He heard the song, was “hooked” immediately and took the manuscript with him back to his hometown. Then, thanks to the Strasser and Rainer families, the song began its journey to New York, Germany, St. Petersburg – and “Silent Night!” quickly became world-famous.  

On the trail of "Silent Night!"

Today, fans can visit several of the most significant milestones in the history of this Christmas classic. For example, the Parish, Pilgrimage & Silent Night Museum in Mariapfarr, the Pilgrimage & Silent Night Basilica directly across from Carpe Solem Mariapfarr, and the Silent Night Fountain on Joseph Mohr Square. Silent Night Chapel in Oberndorf, where the Church of St. Nicholas used to stand before falling victim to flooding, and the Silent Night Museum on the upper floor of the "Gruber School". In Wagrain, the Wagrain Culture Walk takes you on a 1.5-hour stroll to the church that is home to the Joseph Mohr Memorial Organ and his final resting place. Other stations are listed in the Silent Night Brochure.

ALPS RESORTS for your journey in search of the Christmas classic "Silent Night!"

These 5 ALPS RESORTS in Salzburger Land are ideal bases from which to discover this classic song now sung in more than 300 languages and dialects around the globe:

Mariapfarr: Mariapfarr is the sunniest community in Austria and lies roughly 120 km from the "City of Mozart", Salzburg.
Alpenchalets Lungau: Alpine holiday homes and comfortable chalets. Warm your cockles in the Pine Sauna despite the frosty temperatures outside.
Carpe Solem Mariapfarr: These modern holiday apartments are directly connected to Wellness- & Vitalcenter Samsunn and stand in the town center, right across from the pilgrimage church.

Radstadt: Only a 20-minute drive from Wagrain.
Tauernresidence Radstadt: Your four-legged friend is also welcome in these holiday apartments. With wellness area.

Annaberg-Lungötz and St. Martin am Tennengebirge: ca. 20 minutes by car from Wagrain and 70 km from Salzburg
Alpendorf Dachstein West: Holiday homes not far from the valley station of the Donnerkogelbahn lifts - with true alpine flair.
Hideaway Dachstein West: Exclusive hideaway with infinity pool, sundeck and saunas. Opens December 2022.

For detailed information about our ALPS RESORTS in Salzburger Land, please click here. We would also be more than happy to answer your questions by email to

Photo materials © Salzburger Land Tourismus GmbH, ALPS RESORTS

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