with special guests Elisabeth von Trapp and Hanno Schilf
In this special audio edition of Steyn's Song of the Week Mark celebrates the bicentennial of a beloved Christmas song first performed exactly two centuries ago - Christmas Eve 1818 - in a small church in Oberndorf, Austria - "Stille Nacht", or "Silent Night".
For these birthday observances, Steyn welcomes the man who knows more about "Silent Night" and the men who created it than anybody on the planet - the Austrian actor and producer Hanno Schilf, who tells the story of the song, and the strange circumstances that swept it from a village near Salzburg to royal audiences in Austria, Russia and England and then to global fame. We'll hear the tale of a famous "Silent Night" in the trenches of the Great War, and what it's like to grow up in a land where every Christmas Eve is a silent night. Along the way Mark plays the third biggest-selling single of all time, and various other versions of "Silent Night" from pop stars via church choirs and guitarists and Lebanese Christians to the way the song sounded on that first performance two hundred Christmas Eves ago. There's also music from Mozart, Schubert and Rodgers & Hammerstein.
And we'll conclude with a live performance of "Silent Night" by Mark's North Country neighbor and a member of another famous Salzburg musical family - Elisabeth von Trapp, granddaughter of Baron von Trapp and sister Maria, on her father's side, and, on her mother's, a descendant of one of the co-authors of "Stille Nacht", Franz Gruber.
Click above to listen - and we hope you enjoy this 200th birthday celebration of a great song.
For more on Hanno's research into "Silent Night", see here.
~There's more live music this pre-Christmas weekend in The Mark Steyn Christmas Show, with Linda Purl, Anthony Kearns, the Russell Malone Quartet and Mark himself kicking around a wide range of ancient carols and Yuletide pop standards.
And please check out our trio of festive Tales for Our Time - a seasonal sampler from Little Women; Holmes, Watson and a Christmas goose in The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle; and the perfect short story from O Henry, The Gift of the Magi. We also have a video bonus tale, as Dame SiÃ¢n Phillips joins Mark to read "A Child's Christmas in Wales" on the aforementioned Steyn Christmas Show.
Don't forget, if you're a Mark Steyn Club member, you can get personally autographed copies of A Song for the Season and many other Steyn books at a special member's price. For more on The Mark Steyn Club, see here.