During our ten-month expatriation to Germany, we had opportunity to visit dozens of churches…spectacular, architectural and artistic wonders, the likes of which would leave my jaw dragging the floor, stunned by their opulent beauty and painstaking detail. Each time I entered the doors of yet another cathedral, my spirit applauded the craftsmanship and splendor of each masterpiece.
And then there was Stille Nacht Kapelle.
Simple, unassuming and perched upon a small hill in Oberndorf, Austria – 20 minutes from my Bavarian home town – a tiny chapel holds huge historical significance–
the site where arguably the most beloved Christmas carol of all time was first performed: Silent Night
Originally penned as a poem by Joseph Mohr in 1816, on Christmas eve two years later, Franz Xaver Gruber composed a melody for it. Ancient lore tells the story that because the church's organ wasn't working that night, the two performed by guitar.
I'm not sure what happened to St. Nikolaus Church, the Romanesque parish church where it was actually performed, but the Silent Night Memorial Chapel was consecrated in its place in 1937.
The Silent Night Memorial Chapel is so small, it's almost impossible to photograph it; I couldn't position myself anywhere to capture the image I wanted….
And though my jaw didn't drag its floor, my heart celebrated its history. Is there any other carol more recognized and revered, better known by all ages, and which has gained farther reach (now translated in over 300 languages)? I can't think of any.
On this Christmas Eve morning, with a cup of coffee by my side and memories just a' swirlin'…I'm thinking fondly of how this year has truly been one of adventure.
Is Silent Night a favorite of yours? What memories are conjured when you think a spell on our favorite songs of the season?