"Silent night, Holy night!/Shepherds quake at the sight/Glories stream from heaven afar/Heavenly hosts sing 'Hallelujah!'/Christ the Savior is born/Christ the Savior is born."
During World War I, fighting stopped temporarily on Christmas so soldiers could observe the holiday. Both English and German soldiers sang 'Silent Night' together during the truce.
Austrian priest Joseph Mohr wrote the lyrics to 'Silent Night' as a poem in 1816 to describe the inspirational night on which Jesus Christ was born. Two years later, the organ at his parish church, St. Nicholas, broke down right before Christmas Eve. That made it impossible to play the complex Christmas hymns that were traditionally part of the Christmas Eve Mass worship service. But Mohr didn't let them stop him from coming up with music for his congregation.
Mohr took his poem to his friend, St. Nicholas parish organist Franz Gruber, on Christmas Eve 1818, asking Gruber to set the words to music so they would have a simple song to include in Christmas Eve Mass that evening.
Gruber accepted Mohr's challenge, and within a few short hours, he joined Mohr at St. Nicholas to sing a duet of the new song, 'Silent Night,' while Mohr accompanied them on the guitar.
This simple yet beautifully reverent Christmas carol, written at the last minute during a crisis, has since been translated into hundreds of languages and sung around the world every year at Christmas -- becoming one of the most beloved Christmas carols of all time.