Joseph Mohr - Silent night in Hintersee
The writer of "Silent Night" and his connection to Hintersee
Joseph Mohr, the world famous writer of the carol "Silent Night! Holy Night!" worked as a vicar in Hintersee for over nine years (19th December 1827 to 14th February 1837).
At that time the Joseph Mohr house was the outbuilding of the Hintersee inn and it was situated close to the old vicarage. The house was built in 1748 and converted in 1998. It was re-opened on 2nd May 1999 as a "treasure of the Salzburg Land region". In order to remember Joseph Mohr some of his belongings are on display today.
In days gone past …
When Joseph Mohr moved to Hintersee in 1827 times were hard. The small village had only 272 inhabitants who lived off the wood, agriculture and hunting industry. The vicar was very socially-minded and helped the children with their education. Mohr often had problems with the teacher Johann Niederreiter because he often spent his time in the local pub or arrived at school late.
Hintersee was a very rich hunting area and at that time there were very many poachers. By poaching illegally they were able to earn some extra money. Although Joseph Mohr himself did not have much money he bought meat from the poachers and gave it to the poor families who had many children. Mohr was reported and had many problems with the law.
Christmas in those days
In 1827, when Joseph Mohr spent his first Christmas in Hintersee, the first Christmas tree was put up on the Alter Markt Square in the city of Salzburg. Christmas was a simple affair for many families, especially those living in the countryside. At that time people ate soup together after midnight mass on Christmas Eve.
Midnight Mass, the manger and the carol "Silent Night! Holy Night!" were always the most important things at Christmas. Mohr conducted his first wedding on 28th January 1828 in Hintersee. The marriage took place between Matthias Oberascher and Theresia Kloiber (Schornlehen). As the witnesses could not write their names they signed with a cross. On 15th February 1837 Joseph Mohr moved to Wagrain.