|Composer :||Franz Xaver Gruber (1818)|
|Incipit:||56535 65322 77115|
|Key:||B♭ Major/C Major|
|Source:||Franz Gruber, 1818|
Although he composed nearly one hundred works, Franz Gruber is remembered for only one–the tune of "Silent Night," composed on Christmas Eve, 1818. He scored the tune for tenor and bass soli (sung by Mohr and Gruber on that night) with the final phrase to be repeated in harmony (sung by the village choir girls); the singing was accompanied by guitar. In 1854 he wrote an account of the history of "Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht," accompanied by a score (dated 1833) for two solo voices, chorus, organ, pizzicato strings, and two horns.
Gruber was born into a linen weaver's family and studied violin and organ even though his father wanted him to work in the family business. In addition to serving as parish organist for St. Nicholas Church in Obendorf, he taught school in nearby Arnsdorf (1807-1829) and Berndorf (1829-1833). He spent the balance of his career as organist and choir director in Hallein, where he founded the famous Hallein Choral Society.
STILLE NACHT is a pastoral tune in the style of a landler or Austrian siciliano (slow waltz). The tune is intended for gentle singing with light accompaniment (recall its historic performance on guitar). The Psalter Hymnal harmonization is mainly the work of Carl Reinecke (1910).
Sing in four parts, perhaps unaccompanied. Or you may want to try only two-part singing (soprano and alto) for some stanzas. Try using a flute or recorder descant; there are many published settings for these instruments. In smaller worship settings try guitar and flute or recorder. Or have children sing some stanzas in alternation with the Congregation. Sing in two pulses per bar.
--Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1987