In 1818, a Catholic priest named Joseph Mohr was distraught over the church organ not working before a Christmas Eve service in the Austrian Alps. As problematic to his evening’s regular midnight service as it seemed, it provided him an opportunity to create one of the most beloved Christmas hymns we still sing today.
That's when Joseph began to pen the words to “Silent Night.” After finishing, he handed them to Franz Gruber his organist. Upon reading the lyrics, Franz replied, “You have found it — the right song — God be praised!” Quickly, Franz composed a simple tune for a single guitar accompaniment.
Hearing about this near Christmas eve service disaster, the organ repairman on call asked for a copy of the song. Immediately he began sharing it with others. Touring groups soon started singing it in concerts, helping to spread the hymn’s popularity. Later it was used by German speaking congregations in America. “Silent Night” first appeared as the current English translation in a book of Sunday school songs in 1863.