• Christmas carol 'Silent Night' is performed in Wiradjuri Language at Dubbo College, Delroy Campus. (NITV)Source: NITV
Enjoy a classic Christmas carol in a way you've probably never heard before and let the Wiradjuri language sweep you up in a joyful holiday buzz.
By
Julie Nimmo, Nathan Simon

23 Dec 2019 - 9:18 AM  UPDATED 23 Dec 2019 - 9:18 AM

'Silent Night' is one classic Christmas carol that virtually everyone across the world could hum, and probably sing.

Global popularity since the original German version dropped in 1818 has driven demand for translation into 140 different languages worldwide. 

And now the world has the opportunity to learn this classic in Wiradjuri, a First Nation language of western NSW.

The Wiradjuri version of 'Silent Night' was selected by Dubbo Elder, Aunty Diane Riley McNaboe as the end of year song for students to learn and perform at the Dubbo College, Delroy Campus.

The Delroy school and arts captain, Jonathan described the experience of singing this classic in the local language of Wiradjuri as magical. 

"I like singing in general, but singing in language allows you to use that language in a way you wouldn’t of experienced before. It’s a whole new experience.

"Learning a new culture and expressing that culture, is just wonderful. 

It’s just magical what it does."

The carol was selected for its power to bring people together according to Aunty Diane "you had Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children learning language and it broke down barriers between those people. It creates harmony between both and it does a lot of healing."  

The carol celebrates the Holy night when Jesus was born to the Virgin mother Mary. The carol was translated by Wiradjuri Elder, Stan Grant Snr and Dr John Rudder.

Aunty Diane feels there are similarities between Christianity and First Nation religious beliefs "in the way you look after the children and you look after the Country and the people around you. And you do it in a good way. If you do it bad way, you’ll get punished.

"It’s very important at this time you do things for your fellow man, women and children and you do it in a good way. You look after them and protect them.

"There’s people who are not having such a good time at the moment with the bushfires, the farmers and the drought and our animals, our kangaroos and emu’s and everything. They’re not doing so good at the moment.

"I wanted something that was really nice, lovely and peaceful for us. Something that we could give back" said Aunty Diane.

Aunty Diane believes speaking the language of the land you live upon promotes greater respect between diverse cultures. "To be able to do language revitalisation, and cultural revitalisation is so important, not just to my generation but my parents and grandparents generation. Also our grannies, the grandchildren down the track.

"I’ve had people that have sat down and cried and cried because they learned their language."

"When I put on display all the Aboriginal dictionaries, someone will walk past and they'll see their dictionary and they’ll pick it up and hug it to their chest like it’s a baby, and they walk around and they'll be rocking the language book. And they’ll say to their kids, see this, this is your language."

A special rendition of 'Silent Night' was sung as a duet in Yolŋu matha language and English by Dr G Yunupingu and Delta Goodram, to raise funds for the Gurrumul Yunupingu Foundation.

The now famous carol was originally composed in a few hours on Christmas Eve by a schoolteacher, Franz Xaver Gruber, for his friend Father Joseph Franz Mohr. The song was performed that night for the first time at the St Nicholas parish church in the village of Oberndorf. 

Later, the song was translated into English and made famous by crooner Bing Crosby, whose 1935 version has sold 30 million copies and become the fourth best selling single of all time.