Silent Night by Paul Robeson

Silent Night by Paul Robeson
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American singer Paul Robeson sings 'Silent Night' to a group of Australian schoolchildren in this special broadcast on the ABC in 1960. He then delivers a short speech to the children about peace on Earth.

The studio set mimics a cosy Christmas living-room atmosphere but as soon as the audience applauds it's obvious that the children are not the only witnesses to Robeson's performance.

Carefully rehearsed lighting changes, camera movements and crisp audio give the piece a slick feel. It is surprisingly professional, especially as it was recorded just four years after television broadcasting began in Australia. The simple one camera production is effective in creating a feeling of intimacy for viewers.

'Silent Night' ('Stille Nacht' in German) is a traditional Christmas carol composed in 1818 by primary school teacher Franz Xaver Gruber to accompany lyrics written by Austrian priest Joseph Mohr.

Notes by Beth Taylor