Learn to Play Silent Night on Piano and the History of Silent Night
Silent Night endures as a popular and beautiful song to play on piano. It is a holiday carol commonly performed on Christmas Eve, the night before Christmas and a holy day in the Christian religious tradition. With practice, you can play this beautiful song with an arrangement that is right for you! In this article, you’ll learn the history of Silent Night, find links to piano tutorials, and downloads of Silent Night sheet music for your level.
The power of Silent Night’s music lies in its history and music’s ability to connect people around the world. The carol is even on the UNESCO list of treasured items of Intangible Cultural Heritage! The words to Silent Night have been translated into over 300 languages, showing the ways that music can overcome difficulties in communication. Silent Night is also deeply connected to peace. During World War I, in the Christmas Truce in Flanders, young German and English soldiers laid down their weapons and sang Silent Night together from their separate trenches.
Are you ready to start learning to play Silent Night? Try this video tutorial for the easiest version of Silent Night!
Ready for a challenge? Download your sheet music below and scroll down to the Easy or Intermediate piano tutorials!
Choose Your Level and Download Silent Night Sheet Music Below!
The original key of Silent Night on piano is in D Major in a 6/8 time signature. Our Silent Night piano sheet music for Prep Level and Level 1 is in F major and in the ¾ time signature. This calmer setting is common today in some churches and translations of the song, as the 6/8 version is a bit brisker. For Intermediate students, we have an arrangement of Silent Night in 6/8, like Franz Xaver Gruber’s original composition. You can select your level and download your sheet music at the buttons below!
As part of its 6/8 time signature, Silent Night uses a rhythmic and melodic figure called a siciliana. A siciliana is a dotted, lilting rhythm that goes up and down, like gentle waves. The dotted rhythm in measure one (or, where we sing the word “Silent” in English) is an example of a siciliana rhythm.
Learn the History of Silent Night
Although we are learning to play Silent Night on the piano, the carol first began as a poem with words. Joseph Mohr, a young Austrian priest, wrote the words to Silent Night in 1816. The lyrics were meant to comfort the parishioners in a time of trouble – Napoleon’s war across Europe had just ended and times were difficult. Written in German, the words to Silent Night describe a peaceful night and the birth of Jesus, a story that is central to Christian religious observances at Christmas.
Joseph moved to a different parish located on a river in the Austrian Empire and brought his lyrics with him. Although he was an excellent guitarist, he needed some help setting the words for piano and organ. His friend Franz Xaver Gruber wrote the piano sheet music to Silent Night two years later. Together, in 1818, the two friends performed Silent Night in the little town of Oberndorf on Christmas Eve.
While the song and story of Silent Night began to travel around the Austrian Empire and Europe, the original sheet music was lost! Mohr’s name was forgotten as a contributor, and the melody was attributed to musicians from Beethoven to Mozart instead of Gruber! The original manuscript was rediscovered in 1995, and Mohr and Gruber were properly credited.
Learn to Play Silent Night on Piano – Easy Version!
Are you looking for Silent Night Easy sheet music and ready for chords? Try this video tutorial! You’ll learn Silent Night with chords in F major. The 3/4 time signature is graceful and slow. You’ll also practice dotted rhythms!
Learn to Play Silent Night on Piano with Chords
Are you an Intermediate piano player? This video tutorial for Silent Night on Piano uses the original 6/8 version with the siciliana dotted rhythm. The music is graceful and rocking. Your left hand plays broken chords while your right hand plays the melody – so practice them separately at first!