Four choirs will participate in this year’s Carol Service – the Maynooth University Choral Society and the Seminary Chapel Choir both conducted by Dr John O’Keeffe; the Maynooth University Chamber Choir conducted by Ruaidhrí Ó Dáilaigh and the Schola Gregoriana directed by Dr Darina McCarthy.
The Carol Service takes place over three nights with President Michael D. Higgins in attendance for the final night on Wednesday 19th December.
This year’s Carol Service coincides with the 200th anniversary of the world’s most popular Christmas Carol Silent Night. The carol itself will be a centre piece of this year’s service, with a special performance by the choirs and the congregation of more than 700. St Patrick’s College, Maynooth and Maynooth University are also hosting a special exhibition to mark 200 years of Silent Night. Called ‘Silent Night 200 – History. Message. Present.’, the exhibition was brought together by the Austrian Foreign Ministry and traces the origins of the song’s lyrics and melody. The exhibition also gives an insight into the carol’s Irish adaptations. The exhibition runs from 17 to 21 December 2018 and from 3 to 7 January 2019 at the President’s Arch in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. It is free of charge and open to the public from 9am to 6pm.
On 24 December 1818, Joseph Mohr and Franz Xaver Gruber sang the song Silent Night in Oberndorf near Salzburg for the first time. The poem was written by Mohr, a young pastor from Salzburg, and the melody was composed by the teacher and organist Gruber from Upper Austria. Two hundred years later, the song is sung by around two billion people in over 300 languages and dialects around the world. In 2011, Silent Night was recognised by UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage as a world peace song, and international cultural asset.
The Irish Translation: In December 1938, ‘Roddy the Rover’ of The Irish Press newspaper was asked if there were translations of Silent Night in Irish. It became clear that there were many versions already being sung in homes and communities across Ireland. The version we now recognise was the one first printed in January 1939 in response to the original request. It was credited to the Irish writer Tadhg Ó Donnchadha, also known as ‘Torna’. He was a renowned scholar, fluent in many languages, and translated numerous works to Irish from English, French and German.
Click here to access this evening’s live-stream.