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Composer Highlight: Franz Gruber/Jackson Berkey

Updated: Sep 12, 2020

The Greeley Chorale is excited to present a unique arrangement of popular carol, Silent Night on our December 14th Concert. Originally, carols were medieval round dances from France. Participants danced while singing a refrain, then stood still each time the leader sang a stanza. By the 15th century in England, although they still retained their ancient pattern of alternating stanzas and refrain, carols had lost their dance associations and had acquired sacred texts. It was only after the Reformation that they became identified primarily as Christmas songs.

Still, Still Night (Silent Night) is a Christmas carol known all over the world. Its music by Franz Gruber and text by Joseph Mohr have been translated into virtually every language where Christmas is celebrated. As an expression of love and thanks, this setting intentionally emulates, in key and feeling, the wonderful arrangement of Still, Still, Still by the composer’s mentor, Norman Gunilla. Jackson Berkey’s collection of Christmas carol and hymn arrangements were originally presented as an anniversary gift to his lady, Almeda, music director of the professional vocal ensemble Soli Deo Gloria Cantorum.

Jackson’s carols are as unusual as they are familiar. With careful attention to developing the meaning of the standard texts, the composer offers us surprises in rhythm, meter, voicing and harmonies, and brings refreshing sparkle to the familiar melodies, presenting audiences and singers with songs that are dear and traditional, yet delightfully new again.

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