Franz Xaver Gruber lived and worked as a teacher and organist in Arnsdorf near Lamprechtshausen for 21 years. The school building in which Gruber worked and also lived with his family is today Austria’s oldest school that is still in operation. At the same time, it has also housed the museum since 1957. After the renovation in 2011, the simple living conditions of the time back then are shown in the original premises.
Mariapfarr in Lungau – birthplace of the text
Is it coincidence that the six stanzas of the poem were written where winter lasts longest? Joseph Mohr was born in the Lungau region – more precisely in Mariapfarr between Mauterndorf and Tamsweg – and it is where he spent his childhood and the first years after his ordination to the priesthood. Here, in 1868, he also wrote the text for Silent Night, Holy Night, a song that was set to music only two years later.
The Silent Night Museum – which in addition to Mohr’s work and life also exhibits a unique nativity landscape with various scenes – is located in the historic rectory in his honour.
Oberndorf – where everything came together
In Oberndorf, the time had come at last: on Christmas Eve in the year 1818, Mohr and Gruber sat together with guitar in hand and sang the two-part composition for the first time in the St. Nicholas Church. This historic building fell victim to the constantly recurring floodwaters at the end of the 19th century. However, the song has been memorialised with the Silent Night Chapel. An excursion to the “Silent Night district” of Oberndorf is particularly worthwhile in the Advent season.
Hard years in Hintersee
Joseph Mohr was the assistant pastor in Hintersee in the Salzkammergut region for 10 years. But hard times and the long winter repeatedly brought hardship upon the poorer rural population of the tranquil village. More than once, Mohr appeared as a saviour by buying meat from poachers and distributing it amongst the poorest. Where did the money come from? The offertory collection was unceremoniously alleviated, and Mohr almost went to prison for these “Robin Hood” actions. His priest’s vestment and some other original items from his belongings can be seen in Hintersee.
A contemplative city walk through Salzburg
Joseph Mohr was born in Salzburg in 1792. You can walk in his footsteps on both sides of the Salzach river: from the site of baptism in the Salzburg Cathedral, over whose baptismal font Mozart was also once held, and via Steingasse, where the family lived until he attended seminary at Makartplatz. But what would this walk be without the Salzburg Museum at Mozartplatz, where Mohr’s autograph is exhibited. This historic item was only rediscovered in 1996.
Anyone who wants to experience an unpretentious Christmas replete with customs and contemplation will find just the right thing in Wagrain-Kleinarl. Joseph Mohr spent his final years here, and he is honoured every year on the day after Christmas with the Joseph Mohr Memorial Singing event.
Hallein – Gruber’s final resting place
Gruber’s last station in life was Hallein. After many strokes of fate (only four of his twelve children reached adulthood), he finally found peace of mind here as organist and choirmaster, and was able to dedicate himself to his great passion, music. His former residential house now accommodates a museum featuring Gruber’s life. His grave – where singing at Gruber’s grave takes place every 24th of December since 1849 – is also located right next door.
Get to know SalzburgerLand with its Silent Night stations. At the same time, other musicians and world-famous pieces and musicals also have their roots around Salzburg, such as the Sound of Music as well as the city’s most famous son, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.