"Silent night" turns 200 years old

The world's best-known Christmas song is 200 years old.

In 1817, a young priest named Joseph Mohr was appointed to the Austrian village of Oberndorf near Salzburg. The previous year he had written a Christmas poem and just before Christmas Eve in 1818 he brought the lyrics to composer Franz Xaver Gruber, asking him to set the m to music: two solo voices and guitar accompaniment - as the small congregation had neither a proper choir nor an organ in their little chapel.

Gruber finished the composition the same day and it was first performed in the chapel that year.