Silent Night

This is an online fiddle lesson for the gospel tune "Silent Night."
This is by special request for my friend Barbara.

BluegrassDaddy.com is your best source for Bluegrass, Old Time, Celtic, Gospel, and Country fiddle lessons!

Genre: Gospel, Holiday
Skill Level: Beginner
Keys of D, G, C, A

You may download and use any of the MP3s and tablature for your personal use. However, please do not make them available online or otherwise distribute them.

NOTE: If multiple fiddle lessons and MP3s are loading at once, this page will get slow! I recommend that you refresh the page each time you open a new video or MP3.

Video #1: Here is a video of me performing the gospel tune "Silent Night."

Silent Night - Online Fiddle Lessons. Celtic, Bluegrass, Old-Time, Gospel, and Country Fiddle.

Silent Night - Online Fiddle Lessons. Celtic, Bluegrass, Old-Time, Gospel, and Country Fiddle.

Silent Night - Online Fiddle Lessons. Celtic, Bluegrass, Old-Time, Gospel, and Country Fiddle.

Silent Night - Online Fiddle Lessons. Celtic, Bluegrass, Old-Time, Gospel, and Country Fiddle.

Silent Night - Online Fiddle Lessons. Celtic, Bluegrass, Old-Time, Gospel, and Country Fiddle. Silent Night - Online Fiddle Lessons. Celtic, Bluegrass, Old-Time, Gospel, and Country Fiddle. Silent Night - Online Fiddle Lessons. Celtic, Bluegrass, Old-Time, Gospel, and Country Fiddle.


The German words for the original six stanzas of the carol we know as "Silent Night" were written by Joseph Mohr in 1816, when he was a young priest assigned to a pilgrimage church in Mariapfarr, Austria.

On December 24, 1818 Joseph Mohr journeyed to the home of musician-schoolteacher Franz Gruber who lived in an apartment over the schoolhouse in nearby Arnsdorf. He showed his friend the poem and asked him to add a melody and guitar accompaniment so that it could be sung at Midnight Mass. His reason for wanting the new carol is unknown. Some speculate that the organ would not work; others feel that the assistant pastor, who dearly loved guitar music, merely wanted a new carol for Christmas.

Later that evening, as the two men, backed by the choir, stood in front of the main altar in St. Nicholas Church and sang "Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!" for the first time, they could hardly imagine the impact their composition would have on the world.

Karl Mauracher, a master organ builder and repairman from the Ziller Valley, traveled to Oberndorf to work on the organ, several times in subsequent years. While doing his work in St. Nicholas, he obtained a copy of the composition and took it home with him. Thus, the simple carol, began its journey around the world as a "Tyrolean Folk Song."

Two traveling families of folk singers from the Ziller Valley, similar to the Trapp Family Singers of "The Sound of Music" fame, incorporated the song into their repertoire. According to the Leipziger Tageblatt, the Strassers sang the song in a concert in Leipzig in December 1832. It was during this period, several musical notes were changed, and the carol evolved into the melody we know today. On another occasion, according to an historical plaque, the Rainer Family sang the Christmas carol before an audience which included Emperor Franz I and Tsar Alexander I. In the year 1839, the Rainers performed "Stille Nacht" for the first time in America, at the Alexander Hamilton Monument outside Trinity Church in New York City.

Joseph Bletzacher, the Court Opera singer from Hannover, reported that by the 1840s, the carol was already well known in Lower Saxony. "In Berlin," he says, "the Royal Cathedral Choir popularized it especially. It became in fact the favorite Christmas carol of the artistically appreciative King Frederick William IV of Prussia, who used to have the Cathedral Choir sing it for him during the Christmas season each year."

By the time the song had become famous throughout Europe, Joseph Mohr had died and the composer was unknown. Although Franz Gruber wrote to music authorities in Berlin stating that he was the composer, the melody had been assumed to be the work of Haydn, Mozart or Beethoven at various times and these thoughts persisted even into the twentieth century. The controversy was put to rest four years ago when a long-lost arrangement of "Stille Nacht" in the hand of Joseph Mohr was authenticated. In the upper right hand corner of the arrangement, Mohr wrote, "Melodie von Fr. Xav. Gruber."

During his lifetime, Franz Xaver Gruber produced a number of orchestral arrangements of his composition. The original guitar arrangement is missing, but five other Gruber manuscripts of the carol exist. The manuscript by Joseph Mohr (ca. 1820) is for guitar accompaniment and is probably the closest to the arrangement and melody sung at Midnight Mass in 1818.

Later in his life, the Gruber family moved to Hallein, now the site of the Franz Xaver Gruber Museum. It contains several furnished rooms in his former home along with outstanding exhibits dealing with the history of "Silent Night," including Joseph Mohr's guitar. Gruber's grave is outside the home and is decorated with a Christmas tree in December.

Fr. Joseph Mohr's final resting place is a tiny Alpine ski resort, Wagrain. He was born into poverty in Salzburg in 1792 and died penniless in Wagrain in 1848, where he had been assigned as pastor of the church. He had donated all his earnings to be used for eldercare and the education of the children in the area. His memorial from the townspeople is the Joseph Mohr School located a dozen yards from his grave. The overseer of St. Johann's, in a report to the bishop, described Mohr as "a reliable friend of mankind, toward the poor, a gentle, helping father."

Perhaps this is part of the miracle of "Silent Night." The words flowed from the imagination of a modest curate. The music was composed by a musician who was not known outside his village. There was no celebrity to sing at its world premiere. Yet its powerful message of heavenly peace has crossed all borders and language barriers, conquering the hearts of people everywhere.  (silentnight.web.za)

Silent Night

Silent night, Holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin, mother and child
Holy infant, tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, Holy night
Shepherds quake, at the sight
Glories stream from heaven above
Heavenly, hosts sing Hallelujah.
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born.

Silent night, Holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord at thy birth
Jesus, Lord at thy birth.
Posted in Beginner, Gospel, Holiday Tagged with:

Best Online Fiddle Lessons Forums Silent Night

This topic contains 17 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  John Cockman 3 years ago.

Viewing 18 posts - 1 through 18 (of 18 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #10009

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    “Silent Night” is by special request for Barbara. I hope you all enjoy this beautiful Christmas carol.

    Silent Night

    #10010
    Rock
    Rock
    Participant

    Silent night

    That was beautiful John.
    I thank you and I know Barbara will.

    Rock

    #10011

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    Thanks Rock!

    #11318

    Barbara
    Participant

    Hi John,

    Thank you so very much for posting this lesson. I am applying myself to learn it until I can play it well enough to not fumble at all. Then maybe I can try to teach my 6 year old grandson to accompany me on his 3/4 guitar in hopes that we might play it for the family at Christmas.

    I would have liked to thank you for this lesson much sooner, but in true Wilma Flinstone fashion, I didn’t know I could reply at the bottom of a lesson. Now I know! Old dog-new trick. 🙂

    God’s rich blessings to you and your family, my friend!
    Aloha nui loa,
    Barbara

    #11510

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    Barbara, playing music with your grandson sounds wonderful. I hope it happens soon!

    #11539
    kevinj
    kevinj
    Participant

    John, when you play harmony in the last round, are you playing double stops all the way through? I’m wondering if I should take the separate harmony PDFs, and combine one of them with the main melody notes, to get a sheet of music with both melody and harmony in one clef, so I can play it from there.

    Is that a general principle for harmony PDFs/tabs on this site — combine them with the main melody to get double stops (or open strings, as the case may be) to play?

    #11560

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    Hi! The harmony PDFs are not for double-stops. They are just for playing with friends. I would need to write another tab for playing double stops with Silent Night. I will do that!

    #11571

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    OK I have uploaded the tablature for Silent Night with double stops in the key of D (see above).

    #12221
    kevinj
    kevinj
    Participant

    I was thinking (again) about the various ways to dress up a song with magic, and tried to imagine how I could dress up an old gospel or Christmas song.

    Usually with these really classic tunes, lots of the beauty is in the standard notes and the expected simpleness of the melodies. So it’s always risky (or even in bad taste) to dress up these kinds of tunes with slides, syncopations, riffs, or anything that takes away from the simple, steady progress of the tune. Maybe a few double stops in there, some tasteful grace notes, or a change of key for a verse (and then back again) — I imagine things like that.

    John, could you please comment on how (if at all) simple classics can be dressed up with appropriate magic? Any other ideas that you’ve seen or heard of, that worked well?

    #12234
    Justine
    Justine
    Participant

    I sure appreciate the double stop tabs on Silent Night. I can actually play some of them…until I get to
    measure 10 where I get my fingers all mixed up!

    #12260

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    Haha measure 10 is kind of hard to do. Pretty when you get it worked out though!

    #12274
    Great Scott
    Great Scott
    Moderator

    Where did my reply for Silent Night disappear to, John? I left you a nice comment and now it is gone! Sheesh! I leave a really nice comment (the first person to leave a comment for this song) and it up and wanders off somewhere. Now I am stressing!

    I guess the Christmas fairies must have carried it off and are hiding it under a magical mushroom in the enchanted forest. 🙂

    Anyway, my original comment told you what a beautiful job you did of this song and how much I enjoyed hearing you play it. 🙂

    #12281

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    Thank you, Scott! I may have removed that comment because of all the misspelled words.

    Just kidding — I have no idea where it is! Elves, I say.

    #12285
    Rock
    Rock
    Participant

    O great, a big slap in the face for misspelled words. 🙂

    #12298
    Rock
    Rock
    Participant

    So John, can I take the card from my camera (SN video) and put it in my PC and attach it to BGD?

    #12304

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    Yes! Thanks to Angela, the upload should work now. If it is bigger than 100 Mb let me now.

    #13102

    Barbara
    Participant

    Hello  John,

    I just want to thank you again for posting this SILENT NIGHT lesson. As I have been practicing and learning it, it has been like a key,  somehow, unlocking my ability to recognize where my fingers belong to hit desired notes. It’s so very cool and fun. Yes, I still have the sound and coordination of a beginner, but I can figure out how to play simple songs. YeeHaw ! I can play HARK THE HEARALD ANGELS SING, JOY TO THE WORLD, THE FIRST NOEL, ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH,  THE CARRAROE, ROSCOE’S WATERFALL, and I’m working on figuring out THE MOUNTAIN HOUSE. Its just SO fun!!! (Its like a feeding frenzy :).  )  Supercalafragalistic Thank You’s to you my friend, mentor, & teacher, for all your valuable time and knowledge you pour out for us.  Through your website, a special place in my life is being filled and I am so blessed and thankful.

    I hope you and your family had a lovely Thanksgiving. So much love and aloha to you.

    Most sincerely,

    Barbara

    #13117

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    Barbara, I’m so glad to hear that it has clicked for you! The first step to playing by ear is to start playing simple songs that you are already familiar with. You have going to have to post in the Lion’s Den soon!

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