“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It Goes On.”
Robert Frost

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Silent Night

A Minnesota Connection

Christmas Day is Leo Gruber's birthday. By my calculations he will be 97 this year.  There have been a few stories written about Mr. Gruber, a retired  dairy farmer from Willmar Minnesota, because he has a connection to a very famous Christmas song.

When Leo was around 9 years old, he found an old discarded accordion on a trash heap at a neighbor's farm.  The neighbor let him take it home and with help from his mother, Leo taped up a few holes in the accordion and found out he was musically inclined. He soon taught himself to play be ear.  Leo played the accordion at school, at family parties and dances for years. Every Christmas he played "Silent Night".

Not until Leo was around 30 years old did his family finally trace their roots back to an Austrian composer named Franz Gruber.  If you have figured out that Franz Gruber wrote the music for "Silent Night" you would be correct.  And the connection of course is that Leo's great, great, great, grandfather was Franz Gruber.

The story goes that in Germany on Christmas eve, 1818, Joseph Mohr asked Franz Gruber to write some music to accompany a poem Mohr had written. The church organ had been badly damaged by mice, so Gruber opted to play the piece on his guitar. The song "Silent Night" has been with us ever since and has been translated into almost every language on earth.

As far as I can tell from my research, Leo Gruber is still with us and as of 2012 was still playing "Silent Night" on his accordion for the family Christmas celebration. I hope Leo is still here this year and able to play this classic Christmas song for his family.  But even if he is not able to play, Leo Gruber has passed his talent on to his children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren who also love to play this beautiful song.

I think music will continue for a very long time in the Gruber family.


  1. Silent Night and Oh Holy Night are my favorite Christmas carols. So full of meaning and beauty. This family connection is so wonderful and fascinating. :) One of my fondest memories of Christmas at school was when i and my class (5th grade) learned to sing Silent Night in German, and sing it for our parents at that Year's Christmas program!

  2. Fun Fact: Silent Night was originally known as Silent Song, But later had to be changed because nobody could hear it.

    Just kidding

  3. The best Christmas story I've heard in a long time -- thanks! It warms the heart.

  4. What a nice story - it's certainly a classic song. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  5. ~ Silent night is the most beautiful Christmas Carol....I LOVE Frank Sinatra's version so very much....
    ~ Thank you for sharing this story about the song.......
    Diane , Thank you also for your lovely blog friendship on here....And wishing you and yours a joyful Noel....With hugs and kisses Maria x

  6. Gorgeous - I hope you have a wonderful Christmas! :)

  7. Dear Diane - such a lovely story. I had heard of Franz Gruber in Germany but to think his ancestor is still playing this song is such a legacy. Thank you dear for sharing - Merry Christmas!

  8. Wishing you and your family a magical Christmas filled with love and laughter. Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year. Thank you for your friendship.

  9. Thanks Diane! What a wonderful Christmas story!!! Big Hugs ;o)


Thank you for leaving a comment! I do read them all and will try to respond if I'm able. Please know that all comments are appreciated, I love to hear your thoughts on my posts! ~ Diane