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Joseph Mohr

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Aliases: Josef Mohr, Josephus Franciscus Mohr


Born: 11 December 1792

Died: 04 December 1848


Joseph Francis Mohr was born in Salzburg on December 11, 1792, to an unmarried embroiderer, Anna Schoiberin, and a mercenary soldier, Franz Mohr who deserted the army and Joseph's mother before the birth.

As his musical talent was not recognized, he found a sponsor to set him upon the path to higher education. As an illegitimate child he needed the pope's special permission to study for the priesthood and was ordained a priest in 1815. Rev. Mohr was sent to a pilgrim church in the remote Alpine village of Mariapfarr, where in 1816 he wrote a six-stanza poem that was to become the world's most popular carol. Mohr was moved to Oberndorf in 1817 to stay there for two years. When Franz Gruber agreed to compose a melody and guitar arrangement for the poem to be sung at midnight mass on December 24, 1818, 'Silent Night' was born. Within a few short years, arrangements of the carol appeared in churches in the Salzburg Diocese and folk singers from the Ziller Valley were taking the song on tours around Europe.

Until 2006, it was thought that Mohr and Gruber had collaborated on just one song. Now another song has been located in the Wagrain parish archive by the Salzburg Diocesan Archives. "Te Deum" with text by Joseph Mohr and melody by Franz Xaver Gruber can be heard in an audio exhibit at the Waggerl Museum in Wagrain.

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