Discover the story behind the classic hymn, Silent Night, in this Unit Study for Families Homeschooling at Christmas

Learn more about the classic hymn, Silent Night, in this family-style unit study.

Silent Night (Stille Nacht) was first sung on Christmas Eve 1818 in St. Nicholas church in Oberndorf, Austria. It was accompanied by a guitar as the church organ had been damaged by river flooding. Franz Gruber wrote the melody and Joseph Mohr wrote the lyrics.

Two traveling performance families spread the song by playing it in their performances.

Over the years the original tune has dropped a few notes, but is essentially the same. You can view the original sheet music here.

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Silent Night English Language Arts

Read Aloud Living Picture Books

Silent Night by Susan Jeffers The illustrations in this gorgeous book will transport you to Bethlehem, on the night of our Savior’s birth. The pictures are accompanied by Gruber’s famous lyrics.

Silent Night by Lisa Hawthorne Hawthorne also illustrated another Christmas carol book, The 12 Days of Christmas. Both are done in her folk art style and people in the nativity scenes are accurately depicted. However, I should mention that the 12 Days of Christmas book caused QUITE a controversy at my house, because two of the days are reversed from how we’ve learned it. LOL

Silent Night: The Wonderful Story of the Beloved Christmas Carol by Brigitte Weninger and illustrated by Julie Wintz-Litty Tells how Franz Gruber and Joseph Mohr wrote the song over 200 years ago. Historically accurate and told in an interesting manner.

Languages

Translate Silent Night into any language from Afrikaans to Zulu. Over 100 different languages from which to choose.

Poetry

Song lyrics are poetry set to music. Here are the original lyrics to Silent Night translated from German into English in 1859 by John Freeman Young

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!
Sleep in heavenly peace!

Silent night! Holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight!
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ the Saviour is born!
Christ the Saviour is born!

Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth!
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth!

Joseph Mohr 1818

Writing

Grammar
silent night homeschool narration

Copywork and narration are a real-life way to work on grammar skills. Use the FREE Silent Night Narration Worksheet page in the Free Resource Library for early elementary up to high school students.

After your child has written the sentence from dictation, let her see the original to check it with her work. Have her correct her work, so that she knows how it should look.

Then have him re-write the selection in his very best handwriting.

Silent Night Mini Unit Study

Grab the Silent Night Copywork and Narration Packet from the Whole Child Homeschool Resource Store for printable copywork (and coloring) pages.

Folklore

Silent Night was written and played because the church’s organ was damaged. The folklore story blames it on a mouse. Listen to this short but sweet story, The Silent Mouse, on YouTube.

Silent Night History

History of the Hymn

Read Silent Night by Werner Thuswaldnerand illustrated by Robert Ingpen. Although this is a picture book, it’s written for upper elementary and higher students due to the language and topics addressed. Explains the history of the hymn very well.

Or, for younger kids, watch Silent Night, Holy Night from Diamond Entertainment. Older kids will enjoy this short movie about the history of the hymn also.

See inside the Silent Night Chapel that sits on the site of the original St. Nicholas chapel in Oberndorf. (Hit the EN at the top to view this website in English)

Watch The First Silent Night with Simon Callow on Prime to learn more about the origin of the song.

The CW channel just produced a new show about the hymn and it’s narrated by Hugh Bonneville (from Downton Abbey)! Watch Silent Night: A Song for the World free on the CW.

History of the World War I Christmas Truce

Elementary to Middle School

These picture books tell the story of how during The Great War, men on both sides of the fighting defied orders and laid down their arms to gathered together in the “no man’s land” for a 24 hour Christmas truce. They sang Silent Night and exchanged small gifts.

Shooting at the Stars by John Hendrix

Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon and illustrated by Henri Sorensen

Christmas Truce: A True Story of World War I by Aaron Shepard

Middle School

Truce by Jim Murphy This non-fiction book is written at a upper elementary level and includes drawings, maps, and photographs from World War I. Will be most interesting to those who have some background knowledge of the war.

High School

Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce by Stanley Weintraub If your teens are interested in learning more about World War I, this book will help them understand it better. It also shows how despite their “orders” otherwise, the soldiers let their basic humanity prevail to have the Christmas truce.

Media

Music

Listen to Silent Night as it was originally written, in German with a guitar for accompaniment from the Silent Night Chapel in Oberndorf, Austria.

Listen to Andrea Bocelli belt out Silent Night.

The fourth best selling song of all time is Bing Crosby’s rendition of Silent Night, which he only recorded as a favor for a parish priest. Listen to it here on YouTube.

If you like the big band sound of the classic Christmas songs like Bing Crosby, Frank Sonatra, and Judy Garland, you can listen to those songs in this VintageChristmas playlist.

Videos

Buster and Chauncey’s Silent Night Watch the mice Buster and Chauncey head to Oberndorf to make their fame and fortune, where they hear Silent Night sung for the first time. A cute cartoon with a message. Jim Cummings, Marie Osmond and Tom Arnold do the voices. Buster and Chauncey’s Silent Night. Watch free on YouTube

Silent Night Holy Night This 1976 cartoon was produced by Hanna-Barbara team that also brought us The Flintstones carton. Best for older kids. Find it on YouTube.

Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas) 2006 PG-13 This movie is the true story of the World War I Christmas day truce between the three armies fighting on the Western front of the war. For high schoolers. Find it on Amazon Prime, or for free on Crackle.

More Ideas

12 days of Christmas

The 12 Days of Christmas is a series of simple, wholesome family Advent activities & printables that focus on serving others while also spreading Christmas joy and making lasting holiday memories with your kids!

Be sure to follow my Pinterest board Christmastime Homeschooling for more great hands-on activities and ideas for your St. Nicholas mini unit study!

And most importantly, pin this post so you can refer back to it during your St. Nicholas unit study.

silent night unit study
silent night unit study

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