This is the two-hundredth anniversary of Silent Night, or at least its parent carol, Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht. The carol was first performed on Christmas Eve, 1818. It had been penned in 1816, two years earlier.
The original words were written by a priest, Father Joseph Mohr. He wrote the song in German, the language of Austria. According to what I read previously, he was inspired to write the lyrics while returning to his rectory one night after administering to the sick.
The music was added by Franz Xavier Gruber. While the words have changed with language translations, the music remains the same, and is easily identified regardless of the language of the lyrics.
The first performance was by the church choir at Saint Nicholas Church in Oberndorf, Austria.