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Two Hundred Years of ‘Silent Night’

December 24, 2018



200 Years of ‘Silent Night’


Memories and Music from Alice Jane-Marie Massa



On this amazing night of Christmas Eve, 2018, how amazing to think that the beloved and beautiful carol “Silent Night” was written and first performed in Oberndorf, Austria, two hundred years ago.  How has this remarkable carol touched your life and enriched your celebration of Christmas?


As a child, I loved a music book which had a festive cover in full-color.  The background was bright red.  Four children dressed in angel costumes were the focus of the cover.  Inside the music book were gray-tone, full-page drawings that accompanied each song.  I memorized all the lyrics of almost all the carols.  The end pages of the book provided some history for each carol, including “Silent Night.”  During those middle and later years of the 1950s, I never thought of listening to “Silent Night” in this year of its 200th anniversary.  In my piano bench, I still have this music book.


In the late 1950s or very early 1960s, the Royal Neighbor Juveniles of Blanford, Indiana, were in the midst of a Christmas party in Perona’s Hall, a dance hall above the grocery store.  The Step sisters, Joyce and Janie, were leading a sing-along of Christmas songs.  After they led us in a number of lesser known songs from the music booklets provided by the Royal Neighbors of America, my dad, who was usually not so bold, spoke up and suggested:  “Why don’t we sing something we all know, like ‘Silent Night’?”  After a moment of silence, the Step sisters announced that by request, we all would sing “Silent Night.”  As usual, I was proud of my dad.  I was proud to stand beside him and listen to his melodious voice sing his favorite carol.  That was a fine holiday evening in our little town of Blanford.


In 1975, on December 27, at the wedding of Mary (my sister) and Ric, at the snow-covered Beck Chapel on the campus of Indiana University, “Silent Night” was sung in German by a music teacher/friend of my sister.


Much more recently, I was touched by hearing in the news that Irish Tenor Ronan Tynan sang “Silent Night” to President George H. W. Bush, shortly before his passing on November 30, 2018.


Throughout this day of Christmas Eve, as I have listened to a few different radio stations, various versions of “Silent Night” have been playing and calling me to write these few notes for this December 24 blog post on WORDWALK.  Whenever I hear this carol on the radio, from a CD, or from one of my Christmas clocks or music boxes, I think of my beloved and greatly missed dad.


With peaceful and warm wishes to you on this Christmas Eve, I share with you a harp version of “Silent Night” by the Harp Twins–Camille and Kennerly.


Merry Christmas to all!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


December 24, 2018, Monday



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  1. Merry Christmas Eve, Alice and Willow!
    I just returned from evening mass where the choir sang “Silent Night” so beautifully. Father Chris even mentioned the two hundredth anniversary of this special song in his homily. Thank you for remembering that my dear friend Sandy sang Silent NIght in German just prior to the begining of our wedding ceremony on that cold, snowy night almost 43 years ago.
    Christmas Hugs for you and Willow!
    With love, Mary

  2. Carole permalink

    I love the carol and especially remember Uncle Jimmy’s beautiful voice. Thanks for sharing the link for the exceptional harp duo and for mentioning the talented soloist at Mary and Ric’s wedding.
    Merry Christmas, Alice and Willow!
    The Morgans

    • Christmas Greetings!  Carole–Special thanks for your very nice comment!  I do imagine that you and the other carolers from State Line Christian Church sang “Silent Night” many times in the 1950s and 1960s when you went caroling around the community.

         Enjoy a blessed and jolly Christmas!

      Alice and Willow

  3. Sue McKendry permalink

    Merry Christmas, Alice & Willow–Thanks for the extra holiday posts and the links! I remember the story about your dad from a previous post. How nice of you to remember and honor him. Another nice thought to connect with the most beautiful of Christmas songs.–Sue

  4. Thank you for sharing the memory and song. I hope you and Willow are having a great Christmas.

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