The First Silent Night, a Christmas Musical

According to the legend on Christmas Eve, 1816 the organ at the St. Nicholas Church in the small Austrian town of Oberndorf was unplayable. The priest, Father Mohr, had been inspired to write a six-verse poem several years earlier. He gave the poem to his organist, Franz Gruber, and asked if it might be useful for their Christmas Eve service. Herr Gruber wrote a tune and had his students at St. Nicholas School copy the words so the congregation could sing it. When an organ builder came after Christmas, he found a copy of the carol in the choir loft and asked Father Mohr if he could take a copy of the music. This is how the carol “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht” was spread throughout Europe and, by the mid-19th century, had made it to America in an English translation.

“The First Silent Night” is a reimagined version of this legend. In this story we meet not only Father Mohr and Franz Gruber, but also the students at St. Nicholas School and some of the towns people of Oberndorf. Herr Gruber is struggling to get his students excited about the Christmas play where the students portray the animals at the manger. He’s also struggling with a toothache. The family of two of the students have been expelled from their home by a rather unkind woman who owns the farm on which their father works and are struggling with homelessness. Another family is struggling with the inedible food their “clueless-in-the-kitchen” mother prepares, and Dr. Grumble, the town physician, has a way of bringing everyone’s spirits down. The whole town is frustrated by the rapidly deteriorating organ at St. Nicholas, which one parishioner compares to “fighting cats”.

But a happy ending and a beautiful Christmas song are guaranteed.  Be sure to plan to attend our first musical production since the lockdown – taking place in Stull Hall. Our multi-generational and multi-talented cast and crew will help make your Christmas celebration joyful.

Performances will be held:



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