While I’m sure some of you (okay, one or two) enjoyed our little foray into the Star Wars Christmas Album yesterday, I realize that a number of my readers have more traditional leanings and would probably appreciate hearing one of the classic carols. Well, you can’t get more classic than Silent Night, which is so beloved that the recording of the tune by Bing Crosby still stands as the third best selling single of all time, barely trailing behind Crosby’s own White Christmas and Elton John’s Candle in the Wind 1997 (no, really). Bing’s version is so popular that… we’re not going to play it here. C’mon, this is The B-Movie Catechism. From us, you get The Hoff...
…and in the original language even. The only way that could have been better is if he had been singing it while driving KITT into the ocean to save a drowning Santa from a sharknado.
Still, he nailed the German. Silent Night, as you probably know, is an Austrian composition with lyrics by Father Joseph Mohr and music by church organist Franz Xaver Gruber. In a letter written by Gruber, the melodist explains how the carol came to be:
“On December 24th in the year 1818 the curate of the newly erected parish-church St. Nicola of Oberndorf, Mr. Joseph Mohr handed over a poem to the deputy organist, Franz Gruber (at that time also teacher at Arnsdorf) with the request to compose a suitable melody for two solo voices with choir and the accompaniment of one guitar. The latter handed his simple composition over to the musically trained clergyman as requested – an exact copy of the original is attached hereto – his composition was produced immediately on Christmas Eve with great applause.”
Yep, you read that right; the melody for the most beloved Christmas carol of all time was knocked out in a few hours and composed with the (gasp) guitar in mind. Don’t freak out though, my traditionally minded friends, guitar parts in those baroque days were typically written as continuo instruments, ones which played a sort of improvised harmony on top of the bass line. They were almost never the lead instrument. So, breathe a sigh of relief and sleep in heavenly peace secure in the knowledge that Silent Night was not written for guitar masses.