ON Christmas Eve n 1818, young German pastor Josef Mohr climbed a mountain and sat entranced by the beauty and quiet of the darkness.
He sat alone, at a loss for words to pray. His church organ had broken down and it seemed the Christmas Day service would have no music.
Gradually he was become aware of what he described as Gods wordless presence. Before him, he saw a vision of a far-away town called Bethlehem, bathed in moonlight about 1800 years before. The vision made him weep. In the early hours of the morning, the words came to him _ Stille nacht, heilige nacht (Silent night, holy night).
The other words flowed easily, as if Mohr was just a conduit for an outside force.
On Christmas Day, the world heard for the first time, with guitar accompaniment, what was to become the most loved Christmas song.
According to legend, many in the small congregation wept at its simple beauty. They were lost for words.
Mahalia Jackson sings it here