In 1818, when Joseph Mohr is assigned to be the new assistant priest in Oberndorf, a small Austrian town near Salzburg, the young man is full of ideas and ideals. His passion to bring the church closer to the common people sets him on a collision course with his new superior, Father Nostler. When Mohr organises a church choir that includes outcasts from the local tavern and performs in German instead of Latin, Nostler threatens him with disciplinary action. Their relationship further deteriorates when Maria , a regular tavern patron, surprisingly joins the performance of the all male church choir. As Mohr's initial successes start to crumble and his efforts backfire on him, he loses all hope and faces a trial of faith. The night before Christmas, Mohr has to decide if he will accept defeat and leave Oberndorf or embrace the true significance of the Holy Night.