In Dulci Jubilo / On Horseback

"In Dulci Jubilo/On Horseback" is a single by musician Mike Oldfield, released in 1975. The festive song features an instrumental version of a Christmas carol, "In dulci jubilo", as well as the final song from Oldfield's Ommadawn album, "On Horseback".

"In Dulci Jubilo"
In Dulci Jubilo (Mike Oldfield).jpg
Netherlands single cover (the UK version has no unique cover)
Single by Mike Oldfield
B-side"On Horseback"
Released14 November 1975 (1975-11-14)[1]
RecordedNovember 1974–October 1975
LabelVirgin Records
Producer(s)Mike Oldfield
Mike Oldfield singles chronology
"Don Alfonso"
"In Dulci Jubilo"
French single cover
In Dulci Jubilo France.jpg
"In Dulci Jubilo Christmas EP"
In Dulci Jubilo Xmas EP (Mike Oldfield).jpg
Single by Mike Oldfield
from the album Elements - The Best of Mike Oldfield
Released19 November 1993 (1993-11-19)
LabelVirgin Records
Producer(s)Mike Oldfield
Mike Oldfield singles chronology
"Moonlight Shadow (Reissue)"
"In Dulci Jubilo Christmas EP"
For the traditional Christmas carol, see "In dulci jubilo"


Oldfield's "In Dulci Jubilo" is an instrumental version of the German traditional Christmas carol of the same name, known best in England as "Good Christian Men Rejoice". Mike Oldfield had recorded another version with Les Penning of this song as the B-side to his previous single, "Don Alfonso", which did not chart. Later, he felt a better version could be done, and re-recorded it in October 1975 at the Manor, but incorporating some of the previous version's backing tracks recorded November 1974 at the Beacon, his home studio.

The new version features Leslie Penning on two recorders and kortholt, Mike Oldfield on acoustic and electric guitars, piano and ARP string synthesiser, and William Murray on snare drum.[2] Oldfield's decision to re-record the song proved to be a good move; it appeared in Christmas season playlists on radio across Europe, charting at number 4 in the UK,[3] and is one of his most re-issued short songs. It also charted at number 7 in the Irish Singles Chart and at number 3 on the Dutch Top 40.

The song's authorship shown in the track listing below is how it appears on a recent compilation CD. Most editions from the 1970s and 1980s credit it to R. L. Pearsall, arr. Oldfield. Bach and Pearsall both wrote arrangements of it, but the song dates further back than either composer. Italian pressings of the single from 1975 credit it to J. S. Bach.

"On Horseback" features Mike Oldfield on vocals, accompanied by a children's chorus credited as the Penrhos kids. It previously appeared as an untitled song at the end of Oldfield's 1975 album Ommadawn, banded separately but merely listed as part of "Ommadawn Part Two" on the label. The album's liner notes refer to it as "the horse song on side two". Virgin Records recognised this song could also be a contender as a Christmas hit, and was already being played on radio before it was issued as a single; therefore the UK single's label bore a large "A" on each side to encourage radio play of both sides. A large "A" is often used to mark promo records, and copies are often misidentified as promos, but all have this mark.

This record's success as a Christmas single encouraged Oldfield to issue a similar instrumental piece, Portsmouth, the following year.

On 27 July 2012 at the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony Mike Oldfield performed renditions of Tubular Bells, "Far Above the Clouds" and "In Dulci Jubilo" during a segment about the NHS. This rendition appears on the soundtrack album Isles of Wonder.

The piece was also used as the theme tune to the BBC cookery show Fanny Cradock Cooks for Christmas.

Music videoEdit

A music video was made for this song, and is featured on the DVD Elements – The Best of Mike Oldfield. The video splits the screen up to 9 thumbnail frames, each showing Oldfield or Les Penning playing a different instrument. The music video was directed by Bruce Gowers.


Chart (1975) Position
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[4] 4
Irish Singles Chart[5] 7
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[6] 3
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[7] 2
UK Singles (OCC)[8] 4

Track listingEdit

UK 7-inch singleEdit

  • "In Dulci Jubilo" (J. S. Bach / M. Oldfield) – 2:49
  • "On Horseback" (music: M. Oldfield; lyrics: M. Oldfield / W. Murray) – 3:25

Virgin VS-131

The UK edition has "In Dulci Jubilo" marked as side "A".[9] It was also issued in other European countries, excluding France.[10]

UK 12-inch promo singleEdit

  • "An Excerpt From Ommadawn - Part I" (M. Oldfield) – 7:18
  • "An Excerpt From Ommadawn - Part II" (M. Oldfield) – 3:25

Virgin VDJ-9

Side 2 is actually "On Horseback". Issued in a generic cover for promo records.[10]

USA 7-inch singleEdit

  • "Theme From Ommadawn" (Oldfield)
  • "On Horseback" (music: M. Oldfield; lyrics: M. Oldfield / W. Murray) – 3:25

Virgin (dist. CBS) ZS8-9505

Also issued in Canada.[10]

Canada 7-inch singleEdit

  • "Theme From Ommadawn" (Oldfield)
  • "In Dulci Jubilo" (J. S. Bach / M. Oldfield) – 2:49

Virgin (dist. CBS) ZS8-9509

Re-issue with alternate B-side.[10]

France 7-inch singleEdit

  • "Ommadawn" (Oldfield) – 3:28
  • "In Dulci Jubilo" (J. S. Bach / M. Oldfield) – 2:49

Virgin (dist. CPF Barclay) 640079 : 1st ed. 1975
Virgin (dist. Polydor) 2097 930: 2nd ed. 1977

This single has been re-issued in 1977 with another picture sleeve. The B-side has been called "In Dulce Jubilo", and credited to "R.L. Pearsall, arrt Mike Oldfield". The A-side is an edited version of the end of Ommadawn part 1. This may not be the same excerpt from Ommadawn used on North American singles.

In Dulci Jubilo EPEdit

  1. "In Dulci Jubilo" (J. S. Bach / M. Oldfield) – 2:49
  2. "Wonderful Land" (Jerry Lordan) – 2:48
  3. "Portsmouth" - (traditional, arr. Oldfield) 2:01
  4. "Vivaldi Concerto In C" – 3:52

Released in 1993 on CD.


  1. ^ "Singles - "In Dulci Jubilo"". Amadian. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
  2. ^ Boxed album liner notes, 1976, Virgin Records
  3. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2007-02-17. Retrieved 2009-02-27.
  4. ^ " – Mike Oldfield – In dulci jubilo" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 2013-04-08.
  5. ^ Irish Charts Archived 2009-06-03 at WebCite
  6. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Mike Oldfield" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 2013-04-08.
  7. ^ " – Mike Oldfield – In dulci jubilo" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 2013-04-08.
  8. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2013-04-08.
  9. ^ Mike Oldfield: "In Dulci Jubilo" at Discogs (list of releases)
  10. ^ a b c d "Mike Oldfield's Tubular World". Rainer Muenz. Retrieved 2009-02-27.