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For the holiday, the cathedral had erected a huge Krippen (“nativity scene”) that sat atop an altar cloth emblazoned with the song title Stille Nacht, Herlige Nacht (“Silent Night, Holy Night”). In 1816, a young catholic priest by the name of Father Joseph Mohr composed the lyrics in his dad’s hometown near Salzburg. But the song wasn’t put to music until 1818, when organist and schoolmaster Franz Xaver Gruber composed the melody on a guitar and performed it on Christmas Eve together with Father Mohr.

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