Oberndorf is situated 20 km north of the city of Salzburg (Austria) and has about 5500 inhabitants. In the time of the creation of the carol Silent Night! Holy Night (1818), Oberndorf and its neighbouring town Laufen derived their wealth from the transport of salt along the Salzach river. Due to a dangerous river part, the goods had to be reloaded close to those towns. As transport with trains grew more important in the second half of the 19th century, Oberndorf lost some of its economic power.
In 1816, the neighbouring town of Laufen was separated from Oberndorf and handed over to Germany, as decided in the Treaty of Munich. In consequence, not only a new boarderline existed, but old grown social and economic structures were destroyed. The creation and first performance of Silent Night! takes place during these times.
Being so close to the river did not only have positive impacts on Oberndorf, but also meant the threat of floods. In 1890, the floods left serious damange in Oberndorf, which was also the reason for taking down the flood-destroyed St. Nikolas church.