Silent Night

SILENT NIGHT (A PLAY FOR RADIO)

ANNOUNCER: The Songs of Christmas!

MUSIC: (CHORUS SINGS "AWAY IN THE MANGER" ... FADE FOR ANNOUNCER)

ANNOUNCER: December 11th was the birthday anniversary of Joseph Mohr, author 
of "Silent Night." Father Mohr was a humble priest of a village in upper 
Austria, and his simple verse picture of the Nativity has endured for more 
than a hundred years. Father Mohr is almost forgotten, and very little is 
known of Franz Gruber, who wrote the music, which is recognized throughout the 
civilized world. Gruber was sexton and organist of Father Mohr's parish, and 
tonight we bring them back in a little drama that takes us across the sea to 
the remote town of Arnsdorf. The time is Christmas Eve in the year 1817, and 
darkness has fallen in the street. There is little Christmas cheer in the 
shabby home of Franz Gruber, for upstairs in a garret room, lies his sick 
wife. By her side rests a golden-haired boy, and standing near the bed is the 
young daughter, Anna, who has brought a warm stone from the kitchen fire 
below.

ANNA: Now, Mother, let me put this at your feet.... Careful, our little Toni 
is asleep....  There, that will help the cough until Papa comes back with the 
medicine.

MITZI: (COUGHING) He has been gone a long time, Anna. 

ANNA: Maybe the doctor is away from home.... There are so many sick in the 
village. 

MITZI: Yes, daughter, that is why your father must work so hard, with little 
money coming in. It has been such a bad year, and the good people of the 
church are so poor. The doctor, too. We have not been able to pay him for the 
visits when our sweet Toni came. (COUGHS)

ANNA: Now, Mother, you must not talk too much, for the cough comes back. I 
shall go downstairs and fix some syrup. We still have sugar, and God sends the 
white snow for water.... (PAUSE) There, let me tuck the coverlet around both 
of you.... How quietly he sleeps.... Isn't he a beautiful baby? 

MITZI: Yes, dear. Now you must see that the fire in the kitchen is warm for 
your father. He must go out again at midnight to ring the church bells. Have 
you anything for him to eat?

ANNA: Why—oh, yes—and Father Mohr has shared us his last load of wood. Now, 
you must rest until Papa comes home. Good-bye.

MITZI: My darling daughter. God has given you to me, and this beautiful babe. 
(COUGHS). 
 
ANNA: There, there, Mother.... You must keep quiet.... Good-bye.

MITZI: (WEAKLY) Good-bye. 

SOUND: (DOOR OPENS AND SHUTS ... STEPS GOING DOWNSTAIRS ... DOOR OPENS AND 
CLOSES AGAIN)

ANNA: Why, Papa, we did not hear you come in.

FRANZ: Didn't you, daughter? But the wind has come up again.

ANNA: Oh, you must take off those wet boots and sit before the fire.... Here 
are your old shoes. 

FRANZ: The boots, yes.... Then I must see your mother. 

ANNA. Not now. She is sleeping. After you have had your gruel, you may take 
her the medicine. 

FRANZ: Yes, the medicine—I—and the baby, Toni? 

ANNA: He sleeps, too.... But, Papa, why are you so late? 

FRANZ: I stopped at the church to fix the fire. And Father Mohr was to give me 
the verse for the Christmas hymn. But he was gone to the country with the 
doctor. 

ANNA: Just as I told Mamma.... So many need the doctor nowadays. 

FRANZ: Yes, so many need the doctor—and medicine—

SOUND: (KNOCK AT DOOR)

ANNA: I'll see who it is.

SOUND: (DOOR OPENS)

ANNA: Why, Father Mohr, we just spoke about you. Will you come in? 

FATHER MOHR: Yes, thank you! And how are you, Anna? Good-evening, Franz! 

FRANZ: Good-evening, Father! I called for you at the study. 

FATHER MOHR: I know.... I have been with the doctor.... Another baby in the 
parish.... But look what I have brought you—a nice fresh loaf of crust bread. 
It will come in handy, for I see that Anna is getting supper for you. 

ANNA: It is so kind of you, Father Mohr. 

FATHER MOHR: Now, you go right ahead with your meal, Franz, while I talk about 
the words for the hymn. Maybe it is too late, and with sickness in the house? 
How is Frau Gruber?
 
FRANZ: She grows weaker, and without money for medicine, the cough is no 
better. But I shall write the music after the midnight bells have rung. 

ANNA: Here is the supper, Papa. 

FRANZ: Thank you, Anna.... Will you read me the verses, Father?

FATHER MOHR: It is just a story of Jesus' birth at Bethlehem, and the music 
should be simple. Might I say a lullaby? You will know best. 

(READS) "Silent night, holy night;  
All is calm, all is bright; 
'Round yon virgin mother and Child, 
Holy Infant, so tender and mild;
Sleep in heavenly peace."

There is more but that will give you the spirit—and the meter. 

FRANZ: It is beautiful! But can I write music that is suitable? Father, read 
the first lines again.

FATHER MOHR: (READS) "Silent night, holy night, 
All is calm, all is bright;
'Round yon virgin mother and Child—

FRANZ: (INTERRUPTING) "Mother and Child"—"Mother and Child".... I shall do my 
best, but don't expect too much, Father.

FATHER MOHR: Your best will be good enough.... Now, I must go. I will come to 
see Frau Gruber in the morning. You will want to be with her until you must go 
to church. Good-night, Anna.... The child has fallen asleep.... I hope it was 
not my poor poetry... No, don't waken her. Good-night, Franz.... And a Merry 
Christmas! 

FRANZ: Thank you, Father, and the same to you. Goodnight! 

SOUND: (DOOR OPENS ... WIND BLOWING ... DOOR CLOSES) 

ANNA: Papa! .... Oh, Father Mohr has gone, and I was asleep .... The fire is 
low, and we must have hot water. And your supper? 

FRANZ: I have finished. Now, you sit down and eat while I go upstairs to 
Mamma. 

ANNA: Oh, yes, the bread.... Wait, there is still a hot stone for her feet. I 
shall bring the syrup for Mamma's cough. 

FRANZ: Yes, dear. You are such a comfort. Keep the fire bright, so the boots 
will be warm when I go out again. 

SOUND: (DOOR OPENS AND SHUTS ... STEPS MOUNTING STAIRS ... DOOR OPENS AND 
CLOSES) 

MITZI: (WEAKLY) Is it you, Franz? 
 
FRANZ: Yes, Mitzi, darling. And how are you and the baby? 

MITZI: He sleeps well, as always.... You have brought another stone.... That 
is good. (COUGHS) And the medicine? 

FRANZ: The doctor is in the country, and the apothecary will not give medicine 
until the last is paid for. Anna will bring hot syrup, and tomorrow the doctor 
will surely come.

MITZI: Christmas Eve, and no medicine.... But these are bad times and others 
suffer, too. But we have our baby, and he is well. And Anna, blessed daughter.

FRANZ: But we need you, too, Mitzi. You must be well soon.

MITZI: There, there, Franz; all will be right. But was not Father Mohr here? 
It seems I heard his voice as in a dream.

FRANZ: Yes, he came—and left a loaf of bread. He, too, is so busy, but will 
come again in the morning.... Here is the hymn. I am to make music for it. It 
is the Christmas story. 

MITZI: Just read it to me. 
 
FRANZ: (READS) "Silent night, holy night, 
All is calm, all is bright; 
'Round yon virgin mother and Child, 
Holy Infant, so tender and mild; 
Sleep in heavenly peace."

MITZI: Oh, Franz, it is so lovely. Especially about the mother and Child. You 
can write the music, dear ... For me— (COUGHS)

FRANZ: Yes, Mitzi, for you.... "Mother and Child."

SOUND: (DOOR OPENS) 

ANNA: Papa, it is almost time for the bells. And for you, Mamma, here is warm 
gruel and nice fresh bread. 

MITZI: From Father Mohr. Thank you, Anna .... But did you eat? 

ANNA: Not yet. I shall eat while Papa is at church. Then I shall bring you 
syrup for the cough and we can listen to the Christmas Eve bells together. 

FRANZ: Yes, Mitzi. Then you must sleep and tomorrow, maybe— 

MITZI: The music, Franz .... You must write the music.... (COUGHS) I shall 
hear the bells and soon—you will play me the music—

FRANZ: In the morning I will sing it to you. And now I must go.... Good-bye, 
Mitzi, beloved. Good-bye.

MITZI: (ALMOST A WHISPER) Good-bye. The music—for me and—Good-bye. 

ANNA: I shall go down with you, Papa, and help with the boots. 

FRANZ: See how our little Anna takes care of me, Mitzi..... Good-bye.

SOUND: (DOOR OPENS AND SHUTS .... STEPS DOWN .... DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES) 

ANNA: Here are the boots. Sit down and let me help you. They are dry, and you 
must keep out of the deep snow.

FRANZ: Yes, and if the music does not come quickly for the hymn, I must stay a 
long time at the organ. You will watch with Mamma? 

ANNA: Until you come back..... Now, on with the jacket and I will find the 
scarf and mittens.... There, you are all ready.... Oh, my, you almost forgot 
Father Mohr's verses.

FRANZ: I will hardly need them. Their words come to me so clearly: "Silent 
night, holy night .... mother and Child."  If only the music will.... Good-
night, darling .... Take care of your mother. 

ANNA: I will.... Pull the cap over your ears .... Good-bye! 

SOUND: (DOOR OPENS .... NOISE OF WIND UP AND CONTINUES UNDER .... DOOR CLOSES) 

FRANZ: Good-bye! (TO HIMSELF) Christmas Eve.... "Silent night, holy night."

1ST VOICE: Good-evening, Franz! You go to ring the bells? 

FRANZ: Yes, the bells .... (TO SELF) And the music .... "Mother and Child." 

SOUND: (WIND UP AND THEN UNDER) 

2ND VOICE: A Merry Christmas to you, neighbor! 

FRANZ: And to you.... Merry Christmas..... (QUIETLY) "Mother and Child."

3RD VOICE: It is bitter cold tonight, Franz. The bells should ring loud and 
clear.

SOUND: (WIND UP FOR FIVE SECONDS .... THEN UNDER)

FRANZ: Bitter cold .... Yes, a bad night .... a bad night. 

MUSIC: (FADE IN CHORUS "FROM HEAVEN ABOVE" .... SWELL TO FINISH) 

CROWD: (SPEAKING TOGETHER)  Hello, Franz.... Good-evening, neighbor.... Merry 
Christmas, Franz.... Greetings, Herr Gruber! 

1ST VOICE: Franz, we have come to sing with the bells ... There should be 
songs for Christmas! 

FRANZ: Yes, one must have songs. It is time for the bells. Will you gather 
over here? I will pull the rope ... Now, the bells! 

SOUND: (BELLS RINGING FOR FIVE SECONDS ALONE .... THEN WITH SINGING) 

MUSIC: (CHORUS SINGS "O COME ALL YE FAITHFUL") 

CROWD: (SPEAKING TOGETHER) Merry Christmas, Franz!.... Merry Christmas to 
all.... We wish you a Merry Christmas.... (VOICES DYING AWAY) 

FRANZ: Thank you! A Merry Christmas! But I must make the music for Father 
Mohr's hymn.... Good-night and thank you!

CROWD: (AWAY) A Merry Christmas! Good-night! (FADING OUT) 

FRANZ: Good-night! 

MUSIC: (ORGAN PLAYS LAST PHRASE "ADESTE FIDELIS" .... THEN EXTEMPORE) "Let us 
adore Him, Christ the King!" (THEN WITH ORGAN) "Silent night, holy night—All 
is calm"—(ORGAN STOPS) It will not do!

MUSIC: (ORGAN EXTEMPORIZES IN KEY OF C)

FRANZ: (WITH ORGAN) "Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright; 
'Round yon virgin mother and Child" (ORGAN STOPS) I must try it again!

MUSIC: (ORGAN EXTEMPORIZES IN KEY OF F)

FRANZ: (WITH ORGAN) "Silent night, holy night. 'Round yon virgin mother and 
Child"—(ORGAN MODULATES TO KEY OF Bb) Mother and Child. Father Mohr said a 
lullaby. 

MUSIC: (ORGAN EXTEMPORIZES IN KEY OF Bb ... HOLDS CHORD)

FRANZ: Mother and Child .... Mother—

MITZI: (FADES IN, SOFTLY) Franz—the music—for me—and for the child.

FRANZ: Mitzi, it is you? I have it! 

MUSIC: (ORGAN PLAYS FIRST MEASURE "SILENT NIGHT" .... HOLDS CHORD) 

FRANZ: (WITH ORGAN) Mother—and Child.... Now the music.... 

SOUND: (ORGAN PLAYS ONE VERSE OF "SILENT NIGHT") 

FATHER MOHR: Franz, good Franz, you have done it.... So simple and so 
sweet.... The music is beautiful. Now, you must hurry home. It is almost 
daybreak, and Frau Gruber will be waiting for you. 

SOUND: (CHURCH BELLS FAINTLY AND CONTINUE IN BACKGROUND) 

FRANZ: Yes, she is waiting ... Daybreak .... it is Christmas. 

FATHER MOHR: So it is, Franz. You must be tired. Thanks for the song. 

FRANZ: The song ... Tired—so tired. "Sleep in heavenly peace."

SOUND: (HEAVY DOOR CLOSING ... BELLS GROW LOUDER) 

FATHER MOHR: I shall walk with you to the gate and afterwards I shall come.

FRANZ: Not now, Father ... You are so busy, this day.

FATHER MOHR: Christmas Day. My greetings to the mother and child. 

FRANZ: Thanks, good Father. To mother and child.... Good-bye.

SOUND: (DOOR OPENS AND SHUTS ... BELLS STOP) 

ANNA: Oh, Papa, it is you ... I am afraid. Mamma is so quiet, and her hands 
are cold. Only a short while ago, she held me fast and said: "For me, Franz, 
and for—the child." Then she fell asleep.

FRANZ: My little Anna! You will wait here. I must go upstairs.

SOUND: (DOOR OPENS ... STEPS ASCENDING STAIRS ... DOOR OPENS)

FRANZ: Mitzi.... so pale she sleeps.... Mother and child.... Mitzi.... mother 
and—
 
SOUND: (BABY CRIES)

FRANZ: Mitzi! Mitzi! "Sleep in heavenly peace".... Poor little Toni.... Poor 
little child.

MUSIC: (CHORUS SINGS "SILENT NIGHT")

_______________________________________
Originally broadcast circa 1938 or '39 
over Station KFAB, Lincoln, NE.







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