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Silent Night - Chords, Lyrics and Origins

Origins

Not only is Silent Night one of the most famous and popular Christmas Carols, but it is also an intangible cultural heritage, having been declared so by UNESCO no less.  And with only three chords (or four if you count G and G7 as different chords), it's also easy to play.

Silent Night was written in 1818 in the small Austrian town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg.  The words are by Father Joseph Mohr, and were actually written in 1816.  The music is by Franz Xaver Gruber, a local schoolmaster and organist.  It was first performed on Christmas Eve, 1818. Interestingly, the carol was originally arranged for the guitar - which is presumably why it suits the instrument so well.  There are only a few chords and it's easy to play with a simple fingerpicking pattern.  One appealing story, for which there is sadly no evidence, is that Silent Night was written because the church organ was broken (hence the name 'Silent Night' and the guitar arrangement).

The English translation is by John Freeman Young(second Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Florida) and dates from 1859.  In the first world war, Silent Night was sung simultaneously by English, German and French soldiers during the Christmas truce of 1914.  It has been recorded by Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Simon and Garfunkel, and even by John Denver and the Muppets.

You can find out more about Silent Night's origins here.

 

Click below to play Silent Night.

Chords

Capo at 2nd Fret

G                         

Silent night, holy night

D7             G
All is calm all is bright

C                              G
'Round yon virgin Mother and Child

C                       G                 
Holy infant so tender and mild

D7                          G    G7
Sleep in heavenly peace

G            D7            G
Sleep in heavenly peace




G                         
Silent night, holy night

D7                          G
Shepherds quake at the sight

C                                 G
Glories stream from heaven afar

C                                  G                 
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!

D7                                G  G7
Christ, the Saviour is born

G                 D7            G
Christ, the Saviour is born




G                         
Silent night, holy night

D7                G
Son of God, love's pure light

C                                  G
Radiant beams from Thy holy face

 
C                            G                 
With the dawn of redeeming grace

D7                            G  G7
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

G         D7                 G
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

Lyrics

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

   
Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour 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

Other Christmas Carols