O Holy Night

carol-singersI’d intended to include this section in my post about the history of Christmas carols yesterday, but decided against it when I realised I had more to write about than was wise for a single post. In addition, the focus on this carol is very appropriate for today, considering what day it is! Of course, carols like Silent Night and Hark the Herald Angels Sing, While Shepherd’s Watch and several others would also fit the bill, but O Holy Night was on my mind.

So here we are again, enjoying another Christmas Eve. Children everywhere will be getting very excited. What the heck …. I’m excited, and I want to wish everyone in Blogland a really wonderful Christmas.


Now for the serious stuff . . .

I was reading one of Natalie Scarberry’s posts a few days ago on her blog Sacred Touches and on it she’d put a video of my favourite Christmas carol, O Holy Night. I’d never heard it sung by male voices before (oh, my sheltered existence! 🙂 ) but I was pleasantly surprised. The finale is excellent.

O Holy Night has been my favourite carol since I was thirteen or so and a member of our school choir. Every Christmas we had a Carol Service in the church for school and families to attend. One year the choir sang O Holy Night, and the lead singer was a sixteen year old girl (who looked positively ‘grown up’ to me at the time). Her name was Gwyneth and she was Welsh – and she had an incredible voice. She hit the high notes perfectly, the sound resonating around the church. I tried to copy her for years!

I’ve found several versions of this carol on YouTube. Some are sung by traditional boys’ choirs, others by a variety of groups and trios. I liked several of them, but have decided to put two quite different versions here now.

The first video features the carol sung in the traditional way, the way we were taught to sing it (well, minus the soprano voice once Gwyneth had left school). The second one – the one I found on Natalie’s post – is a modern arrangement and really needs listening to all the way through to hear the finale.

So here’s the first version by Affiniti Music. It’s a wonderful combination of an amazing soprano voice, enchanting harp and beautiful violin, resulting in a very lovely Celtic sound – plus background orchestra and a great smile-jerking choir of cheeky-looking little boys.

Lastly, here’s the version I’d decided I wouldn’t like … until I heard it. It’s not the traditional sound and, being the old-fashioned type, I’d decided I wouldn’t like it even before I played it. . . But I was wrong. It’s very modern-sounding, and a lot different to the traditional versions I know, but the force of the male voices impressed me. The American accents add to the different feel to British ears, of course. It’s by Home Free.

See what you think . . .

The words of O Holy Night were written in 1847 by Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure* a wine seller and poet. He was asked by the parish priest to write a poem for Christmas, and he obliged by writing the beautiful words of a poem entitled Minuit, chrétiens (Midnight, Christians). Realising it should have music to accompany the words, Cappeau approached his friend, Adolphe Charles Adams, who agreed and duly composed the music. I’d say they made a great team.

*Roqumaure is a small town in southern France.

Now it really is time for me to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas, Happy Jul/Yule, Happy Midwinter/Midsummer – or whatever festival your own culture or religion follows at this time of year.


41 thoughts on “O Holy Night

  1. Merry Christmas Millie, I really enjoyed the music. Love O Holy Night and enjoyed the Celtic traditional version and have never heard a Country Western Version before but I liked that also. I don’t really listen to Country Western music very often but it was nice to hear them do a traditional Christmas song. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas Holiday.

    1. The.Country and Western version was a nice surprise to me and I liked it! The Celtic version is beautiful, though. I hope you’re having a wonderful Christmas Day, Suzanne, and not spending all of it in the kitchen – although I’m sure you’d enjoy that, anyway. 😀 The day is almost over for us now and we’re just going to bed – well stuffed with turkey and all the trimmings. We can diet after Christmas. 😃

  2. O Holy Night is one of my favorite carols! A tenor friend of mine sang it tonight at our Christmas Eve candlelit worship service. I took my good friends, Juhi and Amol, along with me. They are Hindi and from Delhi, so it was a new experience for them. They enjoyed it. Our congregation, which is nominally United Methodist, is small and very diverse and oriented toward social justice. I like to think that Jesus would have approved. 😉 Juhi volunteered with me this summer at the Freedom School located in our church, but not at all religious, instead a literacy program for kids from kindergarten through the end of secondary school.

    Have a wonderful Christmas, Millie! 🙂

    1. I’m glad you agree about this wonderful carol, Timi. As soon as Christmas draws near, I can’t help myself from singing it, and I’m sure I must drive everyone batty. Both the music and words are hauntingly beautiful and have such depth. Juhl and Amol sound like wonderful friends and it’s lovely that they accompanied you to the Carol Service. I’d love to hear this carol sung by a tenor.
      The Freedom School sounds like a great place for children to get extra tuition in literacy. It’s an area of the curriculum that forms the basics of understanding in so many subjects.
      I hope you had a fantastic Christmas Day and your health is gradually improving. I don’t know how you celebrate the 26th in the US, other than as another day of the holiday. Here in the UK, it’s Boxing Day, often one for family visits in many families. We’ll be invaded again later on, so I’d better get back to the kitchen. I know my place in life… Lol 😀

    1. Yes, I like the version by Affiniti best, too. The soprano voice is quite amazing, and the musicians are both classically trained, too. The three together make a lovely sound. Hope you had a great Christmas Day! 🙂

  3. Thank you for sharing this music on such a lovely post – the last I shall visit “tonight” as I put myself and my pup to bed to ready us both for Christmas Day, hopefully a bit earlier than usual. Merry Christmas to you and those you love – and each and every one of your readers.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    1. I hope you and your pup had a lovely Christmas Day, mgh, and spent it doing the things you love. I particularly love all the preparations for Christmas dinner, which is often a chaotic occasion in our house when all our children join us. This year, a few couldn’t make it, for one reason or another, so things were considerably quieter.
      I hope 2017 is a wonderful and successful one for you. 🙂

      1. How great that your kids help with dinner – what fun that must be, whether they are all gathered or just a few.

        Our day was a long one (didn’t get home until after 2 AM and went to be pa-looped!), but it was lovely and warm.

        Thanks for your good wishes for 2017 – may they apply to your life too.

  4. I still like the Celtic version best, though it’s a beautiful carol either way. Merry Christmas, Mum! ⭐ ⭐ I hope you find lots of lovely things in your stocking. 😀

  5. Lou, the stocking was a lovely surprise and you’ve chosen the things inside well! Hope you’ve had a great day and a yummy Christmas dinner! As for the carol, I like the Celtic one best, too. 😀

  6. Millie, these are beautiful versions, both of them. Classic Celtic version is simply magnificent! Hope you had a lovely Christmas. Wishing you a happy and peaceful New Year, and thank you for all your fantastic blog post I have enjoyed!

    1. Thank you for your amazing posts, Inese. I’m in awe of your wonderful photography and love the gorgeous places you visit. I’m looking forward to lots more in 2017. On that note, I wish you and your family a very happy new year. And a peaceful world would go a long way to making us all very happy. ❤

    1. Thank you for sending this great version of the carol, Cybele. For a 7-year-old, she certainly has an amazing voice. As for being behind with blogging, I couldn’t be further behind if I tried. I wanted to do several Christmas posts, and managed to do most of them, but getting back to people and their blogs has been difficult with so much going on over the holiday. It’s now January 5th, and I’m trying to do some ‘catching up’. As for this carol, I think it’s truly wonderful – and have done for almost 60 years!

      1. so pleased you liked it Millie! All the best to you and yours in the New Year. I’ve had to come to terms with my being perpetually behind-ness lol!! I did do an end of the year wrap up and tried to catch up.

      2. I thought it was the same child. I listened to her wonderful version of Hallelujah on your post about Leonard Cohen a few weeks ago. She really is a gifted singer, for one so young.

    1. Thank you and I hope you had a great Christmas, too! I like both versions of this carol, although they’re very different. It’s a lovely song, and it holds special memories for me, too. 😀

  7. What a beautiful post, Millie! I looooove the traditional Celtic version! Such a sweet voice. Merry Christmas, hope not too late, and a very Happy New Year! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Irina! I love that version, too. The Celtic music is simply beautiful and the soprano voice just brings a lump to my throat.
      I hope you had a lovely Christmas and a great new Year’s Eve. As I write this, we have an hour and a half to wait before 2017 arrives in the UK. Nick and I aren’t doing much tonight as we’ll be catering for the hordes tomorrow! I hope 2017 brings you lots of happiness, Irina, and you manage to write many more of your lovely poems. ❤

      1. My pleasure, Millie. I had a lovely Christmas, although a bit too hot, but I’m very grateful we have air-conditioning in our bedrooms so that we can sleep in cool comfort. Well, the New Year has started for all of us now, let’s hope it brings us many good things, joy and peace. ❤

      2. Yes, Thank goodness for air-conditioning in hot countries like Australia. In the UK, we worry more about efficient heating systems for the winter! 🙂
        I’m really looking forward to 2017, Irina. 2016 wasn’t the best year worldwide, and we can only hope the new year brings peace. I’m also quite glad to see the back of 2016 on personal level. It hasn’t been one of the best for me. ❤

  8. I`m glad you posted this today. I find when we are busy working until the last minute, we don’t get a chance to truly appreciate all that “is Christmas”. I`m still in Christmas mode as well. They say it is appropriate to wish someone Happy New Year for the first 3 weeks of January…so why can’t we do the same with Christmas. When it is my birthday I tell folks, I want to celebrate for a whole month! 🙂 All the best for 2017, blessings x

    1. What a lovely comment, Oliana! I think it’s a lovely idea to wish people Happy New Year well into January. Christmas is a very special time, and brings out so many good things in people and I like to think we can make it last. New Year is fast approaching as I write this, here in the UK, so my thoughts are turning to theyear ahead. I hope it’s a good one for you and your family, Oliana (and why shouldn’t you celebrate your birthday for month! After all birthdays, like Christmas, only come once a year!) 😀

      1. It is 2017 in UK right now, thank you for your lovely comment and best of the New Year…may it last and go on and on.

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