Excursion destination: The Silent Night Chapel in Oberndorf

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A Filipino group headed by the Bicol Society in Austria trailed to the famous  Silent Night Chapel in the western part of Austria.

In 1818, the song “Silent Night, Holy Night” was heard for the first time in the St. Nikola Church in Oberndorf near Salzburg. Today, the “Silent Night Chapel” stands on that very spot. It is a popular destination all year round.

Oberndorf is located about 20 kilometers north of the city of Salzburg. It has gained worldwide fame as the “Silent Night Parish”. Joseph Mohr worked here as a priest, Franz Xaver Gruber as a teacher. The two men met only once in their lives for two years and during this time created the song whose power and magic is still unbroken after more than two hundred years: “Silent Night, Holy Night”.

Silent Night Chapel in Oberndorf

The Gruber-Mohr Memorial Chapel (Silent Night Chapel) was built on the site of the former St. Nicholas Church, where the song was heard for the very first time in 1818. Today it is a popular destination for excursions.

“What a blast to have this Salzburg trip with these amazing people! When they sang Silent Night in Deutsch at the chapel where it was first sang, I was surprised to see foreigners cheering. Filipino spirit’s undeniably incomparable. Also blessed to meet new friends,” Roman Moreno

The Silent Night Chapel is located in the immediate vicinity of the Silent Night Museum in the Bruckmannhaus. The people of Oberndorf affectionately refer to this part of town as the “Silent Night District”. In the Bruckmannhaus you can learn about the interesting history of the song’s origin and distribution. The history of the village and the history of salt shipping are also closely interwoven with the song.

During Advent, you can also visit an atmospheric Advent market in the Silent Night district. At the “Silent Night Special Post Office”, visitors can send their Christmas mail directly from the first performance location to anywhere in the world. The letters will be specially designed with the special Christmas stamp and postmark.

World premiere of “Silent Night, Holy Night“

Many legends and romantic stories surround the first performance of the well-known Christmas carol in Oberndorf near Salzburg. It is believed that the  small organ of the church was no longer playable due to its poor condition and Joseph Mohr and Franz Gruber therefore created a carol with guitar accompaniment.

Composer Franz Xaver Gruber described the genesis of the Christmas carol on December 30, 1854 in the “Authentic Occasion” as follows:

“It was on December 24, 1818, when the then assistant priest Joseph Mohr presented a poem to the organist Franz Gruber (at that time also a school teacher in Arnsdorf) at the newly established parish of St. Nicola […], with the request to write a suitable melody for 2 solo voices including choir and for a guitar accompaniment. The latter delivered on the same evening to this music expert, according to his request, as it is enclosed in copy with the original, his simple composition, which was immediately produced on Christmas Eve with all applause”.

The text and the melody, played only on a guitar, delighted the congregation.

A Christmas carol goes around the world

By 1839, the song had already reached New York. Protestant and Catholic missionaries transmitted the special Christmas carol to the whole world at the turn of the century.

  • hector pascua/pictures: roman moreno
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