200 years of 'Silent Night': Singers mark carol's birthday

The Kroell Family Singers, Gerlinde, left, Elisabeth, center, and Christiane, sing Christmas Carols during a celebration of the song "Silent Night," at Trinity Church, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018, in New York. "Silent Night," one of the most famous songs of the Christmas season, is being celebrated as it approaches its 200th anniversary. Written and sung in Austria in December 1818, the song was first performed in the U.S. in 1839 at the Hamilton Memorial on the church's grounds by an Austrian family of traveling singers. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Spectators watch and listen as the Kroell Family Singers sing "Silent Night" with the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and Trinity Youth Chorus during a celebration of the anniversary of the song at Trinity Church, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018, in New York. "Silent Night," one of the most famous songs of the Christmas season, is being celebrated as it approaches its 200th anniversary. Written and sung in Austria in December 1818, the song was first performed in the U.S. in 1839 at the Hamilton Memorial on the church's grounds by an Austrian family of traveling singers. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
The Kroell Family Singers, center, sing "Silent Night" with the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and Trinity Youth Chorus during a celebration of the anniversary of the song at Trinity Church, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018, in New York. "Silent Night," one of the most famous songs of the Christmas season, is being celebrated as it approaches its 200th anniversary. Written and sung in Austria in December 1818, the song was first performed in the U.S. in 1839 at the Hamilton Memorial on the church's grounds by an Austrian family of traveling singers. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
The Kroell Family Singers, center, sing "Silent Night" with the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and Trinity Youth Chorus during a celebration of the anniversary of the song at Trinity Church, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018, in New York. "Silent Night," one of the most famous songs of the Christmas season, is being celebrated as it approaches its 200th anniversary. Written and sung in Austria in December 1818, the song was first performed in the U.S. in 1839 at the Hamilton Memorial on the church's grounds by an Austrian family of traveling singers. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
The Kroell Family Singers, Gerlinde, left, Elisabeth, center, and Christiane, sing Christmas Carols during a celebration of the song "Silent Night," at Trinity Church, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018, in New York. "Silent Night," one of the most famous songs of the Christmas season, is being celebrated as it approaches its 200th anniversary. Written and sung in Austria in December 1818, the song was first performed in the U.S. in 1839 at the Hamilton Memorial on the church's grounds by an Austrian family of traveling singers. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

NEW YORK — One of the most famous songs of Christmas was celebrated Tuesday as it approaches its 200th anniversary, with a concert at the New York City church where "Silent Night" is believed to have been sung in the United States for the first time and where a priest was the first to publish an English translation of the Austrian carol.

The performance of the carol by Austria's Kroll Family Singers and ensembles from Trinity Church took place at the Alexander Hamilton memorial in the Trinity churchyard. The singers stood in front of the memorial in the darkened yard as onlookers gathered and horns from passing cars beeped on nearby streets.

The Kroll singers opened the carol with verses in the original German, followed by the Trinity singers with verses in languages including French, Spanish, and finally English. After the outdoor performance, they went inside the church, where the Austrian group sang some other songs before they finished with another rendition of "Silent Night."

The song resonates with people because of its simple melody and straightforward message, said Elisabeth Frontull, a member of the Kroll group.

"You sing it from the bottom of your heart; that's the reason why the song is so popular," she said.

Organizers of the event said it's believed the song was first sung at the Trinity Church location in 1839 by the Rainer family singers, a traveling singing group from Austria.

"Silent Night" initially debuted as a musical piece in December 1818, with words by Joseph Mohr, a priest, and music by Franz Xaver Gruber, in Oberndorf, Austria.

In 1859, a priest at Trinity, John Freeman Young, published the first English translation of three verses of the carol, including the well-known first verse that ends with "sleep in heavenly peace."

It has become one of the most recorded songs in the world and declared as part of Austria's cultural heritage.

To mark its anniversary, Austrian tourism organizations put together a number of events in that country, including concert and exhibitions.

The concert at Trinity — a historic church and tourist attraction that survived the destruction of the nearby World Trade Center in 2001 — was the only stateside event done through that effort, said Sigrid Pichler, spokeswoman for New York City's Austrian Tourist Office.

"It touches the hearts of people deeply," she said. "It's a very simple song, it has an eternal message of peace. It is also something that the whole world needs to hear."

People also read these

Explorers find 2nd-oldest confirmed shipwreck in...

Aug 17, 2016

A team of underwater explorers says it has found the second-oldest confirmed shipwreck in the Great...

Racers whip across Utah's famed salt flats after...

Aug 17, 2016

Thousands of racers have descended on Utah's famed Bonneville Salt Flats after two years of...

Lava meets the sea, puts on fire-spitting show in...

Aug 18, 2016

For the first time in three years, lava from a volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has reached the...

Rare Tyrannosaurus rex skull arrives at Seattle...

Aug 19, 2016

Paleontologists with Seattle's Burke Museum have unearthed the bones of a Tyrannosaurus rex that...

Most limits on US-Mexico flights are about to be...

Aug 20, 2016

Delta, American and Southwest move quickly to add flights as US and Mexico ease restrictions

Sign up now!

About Us

In The Headline sought to bring professionalism back into journalism, bringing you only the most exclusive and the most impactive news from all over the globe.

Contact us: sales[at]intheheadline.com