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Sandwich Holy Night

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Martin Jr.

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I can't vouch for the historical accuracy of this story, I found it in a cook book by George Herter.

Sandwich Holy Night
"In Salzburg, Austria a poor farm girl came to town to try her luck as a seamstress, making dresses for the local ladies. She met a young man named Mohr who thought that she looked like a promising means of support if handled properly. He married her but when she became pregnant he deserted her for a more likely prospect. She had a son and named him Joseph after the husband of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. She desired of course, that the boy be baptized but no one wanted to associate themselves as baptism sponsors for this poor woman's child. Finally the public hangman of the area who was a devout Catholic offered to sponsor the child if the mother would accept him as the sponsor. The poor distraught mother was glad to get a sponsor at all for Joseph and readily accepted the kind hangman's offer.
As the boy grew up he proved to be exceptionally intelligent and a good worker. He suported his mother by not only working for the various storekeepers by day but by singing in the better taverns by night. Everyone thought very well of him. He told the local priests that he wanted to become a priest. He was obviously such an outstanding man that the Catholic Church agreed to educate him for the priesthood. He went through the seminary with flying colors.
The town of Oberndorf at Saint Nichoas Church needed a new priest as their priest died suddenly of a heart attack. Father Mohr was much too young for the job but he was sent there in the year 1818 on a temporary basis until a suitable older priest could be found. Oberndorf is on the banks of the River Salzach near Salzburg. In recent years the town became famous for making Mauser rifles.
On December 23, 1818 Father Mohr, as usual, tried the church organ. He played fairly well himself and enjoyed playing a little each day. This day however, the organ would not play at all. On examination, he found that a mouse had eaten several holes in the leather of the organ's bellows. He knew that the bellows could not be repaired by Christmas. Christmas Mass without music was unthinkable. He decided that the only thing to do was to write a song and have the children sing it to replace somehow - the usutal organ music. Father Mohr knew the organist could play a guitar and he decided to ask him to accompany the children with him. Father Mohr went back to his room and within a few minutes and without any seeming effort at all he wrote "Silent Night". The song flowed out onto his writing paper so quickly that it surprised him. He never wrote any music before this time or never again afterwards.
Later in the day Franz Gruber, the organist at Saint Nicholas Church, stopped by to check with Father Mohr on the music for the Christmas Mass. Gruber was 31 years old. He was a schoolteacher in the nearby town of Arnsdorf. Father Mohr told Herr Gruber that the organ was out of order. The only solution, he explained was to have the children sing to replace some of the organ music with Gruber and himself accompanying them on guitars. He quickly went through the song he had written and gave Gruber the original copy. He told Gruber to polish up the music and improve on it as best he could. Gruber admitted that the song did not sound too bad and he agreed at once that he would do what he could to make it better.
On Christmas Eve after midnight Mass, Father Mohr and Herr Gruber and the children's choir marched down the main isle of the church to the altar. Father Mohr and Herr Gruber played their guitars while the children sang Silent Night. The congregation enjoyed the song but when it was over no one remembered it.
Father Mohr laid his guitar down on the communion rail and mingled with the congregation as they got up to leave.
A little girl tugged on Father Mohr's habit and asked, "Father who makes the moon go around?"
Father Mohr bowed down and replied, "The Virgin Mary of course. Drives it in a sleigh."
The little girl said, "I suppose Jesus sits in the front seat."
Everyone chuckled and this little bit of conversation was remembered and the song completely forgotten.
Father Mohr brought out a platter full of sandwiches for the children's choir and they all happily took one. Father Mohr's children sandwiches were the talk of the children world. The original recipe is as follows. Take a slice of white bread, Butter it lightly. Take a block of sweet cooking chocolate. Place a pot of water on the stove and boil it. Place a small pot in the boiling water and melt the chocolate in it. You must use solid sweet chocolate. Chocolate Syrup will not work at all as it has a very undesirable sandy taste not suitable for these sandwiches at all. When barely melted, spread a layer of the soft chocolate about one-eighth of an inch thick on the bread. Over this spread a layer of red currant jelly one-eighth of an inch thick. Now cut the bread in two and put one-half of the bread on top of the other half so that there is a layer of chocolate in the center of the bread on top of the other half so that there is a layer of chocolate in the center of the sandwich and on top of the sandwich. These sandwiches are incredibly good. During World War II food was very scarce in Austria. I have had Austrians tell me that the only thing that they really missed during these years of privation were Holy Night Sandwiches.
Father Mohr was a deely religious man but he liked to go down to the local taverns on occasion and have a few beers or a glass of wine with the river boatmen and the drinking element of the town. He often joined in their hearty singing of beer tavern songs which at times can get a little off color, to say the least. It is remembered that he taught the men that if a stein or glass of beer looked like it was going to foam over as it was poured, all you had to do was to poke your finger down into the stein or glass and it would definitely not foam over. This is very useful bit of knowledge at times and was deeply appreciated.
People being what they are, some of the older members of the church did not take to Father Mohr at all. The wrote to the bishop asking that he be removed and an older man put in his place. They forgot one of the prime teachings of Christ Himslef, "Judge not yet you be judged," and they forgot that the Great Christ Himself enloyed a good glass of wine now and then and even miraculously created wine on occasion for firends. When it came time for him to be murdered, he chose wine to be his own blood. I have always said that Heaven will never be overcrowded with Christians. I have met thousands of people who called themselves Christians but only a handful who actually practiced Christ's teachings.
The bishop removed Father Mohr at once.
A month later a repairman named Karl Mauracher from the town of Zillertal came and put new leather bellows in the organ. Herr Gruber was there to test the repaired organ. He played Silent Night. Karl Mauracher was impressed with the song and asked for a copy of it which Herr Gruber gladly gave him. Mauracher took the song back to Zillertal and had it published giving no credit at all to Father Mohr or Herr Gruber. This miraculous song quickly spread all over the world. Fathe Mohr and Herr Gruber were never given a penny for writing it although millions were made from the song. When they were old dying men, they were finally acknowledged as the true creators of "Silent Night", but were given none of the money that the song had earned. They both died as poor as church mice.
The people of Oberndorf finally built a chapel on the site of the old Saint Nicholas Church in memory of these two men. Herr Gruber's guitar was handed down in his family and today every Christmas Eve it is used to play "Silent Night" in the memorial chapel. Even the location of Father'Mohr's grave is unknown.
If you ever sing this song in your home, chuch or on television, send a donation to the Father Mohr Memorial Chapel Statue Fund, Oberndorf, Austria. When they get enought, they will put up a statue of Father Mohr, he certainly deserves one. Better yet, make your donation the price of a six pack of good beer, he would understand this."
 

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