The Song that Stopped a War

Joseph Mohr wrote the words to a Christmas poem in 1816 to encourage his parish members. Two years later he asked his close friend Franz Gruber to create a melody to his poem. The organ was unusable that Christmas Eve, so Franz created the melody on guitar within a few hours to share with the congregation. Two simple men with a love for their God and their people wrote words and notes that still echo today. Their song has been composed in every genre of music and Time Magazine has named it the most popular Christmas song of all time. On Christmas Eve 1914 WW I stopped in what was called the Christmas Truce. It was a beautiful moonlit night with white frost covering everything. There was commotion in the German trenches, and they began to sing “Silent Night” in German. The guns fell silent on both sides with an unofficial cease fire. This cease fire lasted up to New Year’s Day in some places. Cautiously, the men crept out of their trenches and exchanged greetings and gifts. London rifleman, Graham Williams said of this extraordinary event, “I shall never forget it. It was one of the highlights of my life.” It was not until 1995 when an original manuscript was found with Joseph Mohr’s signature, date, and verses that credit could be officially given to him for this song. For years people wondered who the author of these beautiful words was. One simple act of faith of loving their God and loving the people in their congregation has impacted people for generations. And yet, results were not immediate, but the words of Joseph Mohr have changed the world forever.

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