It is a hundred degrees in Houston these days, and I am staying cool by creating a new design for Christmas, an old-world style canvas telling a story of a long ago Christmas Eve in a small Austrian village.
It is 1818, at Midnight Mass in St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf, Austria.
For the first time, the carol we know as Silent Night (Stille Nacht) is heard, sung by its composer, Franz Gruber, playing guitar, and its lyricist Joseph Mohr, both accompanied by a choir.
Mohr, a priest, had written the words of the poem in 1816. On Christmas Eve in 1818 he traveled to visit his friend, Gruber, a musician and schoolteacher in nearby Arnsdorf and asked him to write music to accompany his poem.
Gruber wrote the melody we know so well today and added a guitar accompaniment. (The original melody is somewhat different from what we sing today).
The moment I am trying to capture is the magic of a cold snowy Christmas Eve as the choristers leave the Mass and process out of the church beneath the guiding star to return to the village. Perhaps they are humming the song that captures the stillness and holiness of that night.
I am stitching my canvas with the words in the original German, but if you prefer, the canvas will also be available in English.
Painted on 16 count canvas, it measures approx. 21 x 4.5 inches.
So far, I have only stitched the red in the letters (Petite Very Velvet) and the little choristers. I’m looking forward to stitching the houses in the village.