A Star from the Sky

by Paola Emilia Rubbi

The song from Salzburg: the cradle of the most famous Christmas song.

Christmas relates to the nativity scene, the tree, the pastries. Christmas is also: "Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht" or "Star from the sky" or even "You come from the sky": the first notes of the song are sufficient to immediately plunge your mind (and often even your heart) into a Holiday mood. Translated into more than 300 languages, known in almost every country on earth, song on Christmas Eve by two billion people, the story of the melody, which was first heard in 1818, is interlaced in some way with the story of Mozart since it is in Salzburg that it is also rooted.
Its two authors: Franz Xavier Gruber is the composer and Hans Joseph Mohr is the author of the text. There are six cities closely connected to their lives and their works. The journey back in time with "Stille Nacht" begins in Arnsdorf; Franz Xavier Gruber taught for 21 years at the old school there. The legend says that the church organ in Oberndorf, near Salzburg, was in bad condition and unusable. The year 1818 was coming to an end and there were only a few days before Christmas. The then assistant pastor, Hans Joseph Mohr, asked organist Franz Gruber to write for Christmas Mass a melody and guitar arrangement for the poem he had himself written, a melody to be adapted to the text for two soloist and a choir. The song was heard for the first time in St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf, in a commotion by the assistance, and the event was of such importance for the small Austrian centre that a memorial chapel was dedicated to them, as well as a plaque in the residence of the sacristan (where lived at the time the assistant pastor Mohr) and a monument in front of the parish church.  Back on our journey, we then arrive in Salzburg, where Josepth Mohr was born in 1792. Around 1794, he lived in the house where the street address was 31 Steingasse, but since it was thought for a long time that he had lived at number 9 of the same street, it is possible to find there two commemorative plaques and an expository space dedicated to the famous song and its author.
However, Joseph Mohr lived for the longest time in Wagrain. With a walk in the town, it is possible to go to the places that were most significant in Mohr
's activities: the original written texts can be found in the archives of the parish; there is a commemorative plaque in the church and, not far away, there is the school founded by the religious man that is proof of his intense activities. In front of the south entrance of the small cemetery, there is a set up for a permanent exhibition dedicated to the life and the works of the author, other than the story to the song "Star from the sky". Franz Xavier Gruber was also closely linked to the town of Hallein where Gruber lived during 28 years working as a choir director, a chorus singer and an organist. His tomb can be found near the parish church in front of the home where he lived and where can be found today the archives and the museum Stille Nacht with the original guitar from 1818. But, where is it that Hans Joseph Mohr composed his poetry, the text for the Christmas song which became so very famous all over?
A Marapfarr: it was in 1816 (two years before the well-known melody was first heard) and Mohr lived there
Foto - Salisburgo di notteand was coadjutor. Incidentally, the family tree tells us that the Mohrs lived in the Lungau from the seventeeth century on, and the Stille Nacht Museum  in Marapfarr has preserved quite a bit of documentation on Joseph Mohr, dedicated to the various periods in his life in the more southern district of Salizburg where the period before Christmas transpires a very special and charming atmosphere. It is Advent, Salzburg is rich with activities and event, taking place in front of the duomo and on Residence Place, it is the same in magical Hellbrunn and near the fortress of Hohensalzburg and in Sterngarten. Old traditions and customs are renewed during Christmas time on this land whose brightest star may be Mozart, but where other jewels make its inhabitants proud, like the area of the four lakes in the Salzburg region (Wallersee, Obertrumer See, Mattsee, Grabensee) where large living nativity scenes with 650 animals, fires, poney rides, presents and deliciousness, excursions in horse sleigh make it an unforgettable journey. And now, Merrry Christmas everyone and let's all sing "Stille Nacht".