Douglas Niedt

Merry Christmas

Christmas night scene with baby Jesus

Silent Night

(Music by Franz Gruber, Words by Joseph Mohr)

Copyright Douglas Niedt, All Rights Reserved. This Christmas music for classical guitar may be reprinted, but please be considerate and give credit to Douglas Niedt.

I usually try to make these Christmas songs easy to play (but still sound full and interesting) so they can be learned by Christmas. I have also included an MP3 of me playing it that you may download.

The Story Behind the Christmas Carol

The story of the creation of the Christmas song Silent Night has been passed down from generation to generation. Though scholars find no solid evidence for some details of the narrative, it is a fascinating account.

It was December of 1818, during a particularly cold winter in the Austrian Alps. Twenty-six-year-old village priest Joseph Mohr was making last-minute preparations for a special Christmas Eve mass at St. Nicholas Church. Everything from music to message was in place. But as he cleaned and readied the sanctuary, he encountered a serious problem: St. Nicholas' organ would not play. A frantic Mohr struggled with the old instrument, but in spite of his efforts, the organ remained silent.

Realizing nothing could be done, he prayed for inspiration. He was suddenly reminded of a Christmas poem he had written two years earlier. Digging Stille Nacht! heilige Nacht! from his desk, Mohr reread the words. The poem was perfect for the Christmas Eve midnight mass, now just hours away.

He hurried through the snow-covered streets to Franz Gruber's drafty apartment over the town schoolhouse. Gruber played the organ at St. Nicholas, and was also a talented composer. The distressed priest explained his dilemma. Showing him the poem, he asked Franz to write a melody with guitar accompaniment for his words—music simple enough that could be learned by the choir that night.

A few hours later, the two friends met at St. Nicholas. There, in the candlelit sanctuary, Gruber shared his new music with Mohr. The priest approved, and after learning the guitar chords, whisked the music off to the choir members, who were waiting for their rehearsal.

Just after midnight, Mohr and Gruber stood in front of the main altar and introduced their song. As they sang, they couldn't have guessed that Silent Night would be remembered not only the next Christmas in their small village, but almost two hundred years later, around the world.

Gruber's simple but beautiful music blended perfectly with the spirit of Mohr's words. And why Joseph Mohr selected a guitar accompaniment for his hymn is not known, but the choice was fortunate. The image of the starry sky, the little church, and the lone guitar is one of enduring humility and quiet beauty.

Listen to me play it:

Silent Night, Easy Version (Franz Gruber) arranged by Douglas Niedt

The Christmas Sheet Music for Guitar of Silent Night

Here is the free Christmas sheet music for guitar of Silent Night.

Included are three versions:

  • Standard Notation
  • Standard Notation and Tab
  • Tab only

Also included is an mp3 of me playing the carol. You may download it to all your devices.

You will download the folder from Dropbox. You do NOT need a Dropbox account and you do NOT need to sign in to access and download the files.

Be sure to check out the other Christmas music, free technique tips, and more on this website!

Christmas Sheet Music for Guitar, Silent Night p1 Christmas Sheet Music for Guitar, Silent Night p2 Christmas Sheet Music for Guitar, Silent Night p3

Be sure to check out the other Christmas music, free technique tips, and more on this website!