O Holy Night

"O Holy Night" (also known as "Cantique de Noël") is a well-known Christmas carol. Originally based on a French-language poem by poet Placide Cappeau, written in 1843, with the first line "Minuit, chrétiens! c'est l'heure solennelle" (Midnight, Christians, is the solemn hour) that composer Adolphe Adam set to music in 1847. The English version is by John Sullivan Dwight. The carol reflects on the birth of Jesus as humanity's redemption.

O Holy Night
by Adolphe Adam
Adolphe Adam.jpg
Adolphe Adam
Native nameMinuit, chrétiens
GenreClassical, Christmas
TextPlacide Cappeau
LanguageFrench, English
Composed1847 (1847)
Performed by the United States Air Force Heritage of America Band


In Roquemaure at the end of 1843, the church organ had recently been renovated. To celebrate the event, the parish priest persuaded poet Placide Cappeau, a native of the town, to write a Christmas poem.[1] Soon afterwards that same year, Adolphe Adam composed the music. The song was premiered in Roquemaure in 1847 by the opera singer Emily Laurey.

Unitarian minister John Sullivan Dwight, editor of Dwight's Journal of Music, wrote the English version in 1855.[2] This version became popular in the United States, especially in the North, where the third verse resonated with abolitionists, including Dwight himself.[1]

The wide vocal range of the song makes it one of the more difficult Christmas songs to execute properly, especially for untrained amateurs.[3] In French-language churches, it is commonly used at the beginning of the Midnight Mass.[4]

On record chartsEdit

The song has been recorded by numerous well-known popular-music, classical-music, and religious-music singers. It makes a frequent appearance in the annual performances of the Choir of King's College, Cambridge.[5] Several renditions by popular artists have appeared on record charts:


  1. ^ a b Collins, Ace (2001). Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. pp. 132–138. ISBN 9780310873877.
  2. ^ Nobbman, Dale V. Christmas Music Companion Fact Book. 2000. p. 36. Google Books
  3. ^ Forget, Dominique (December 24, 2017). "Minuit, chrétiens et l'aigu fatidique". Québec Science. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
  4. ^ Bronze, Jean-Yves (December 6, 2003). "The Minuit, Chrétiens in Québec". La Scena Musicale. 9 (4).
  5. ^ "What are the original lyrics to 'O Holy Night' – and who has recorded it?". Classic FM.
  6. ^ "Mariah Carey Chart History (Holiday 100)". Billboard.com. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  7. ^ "Mariah Carey 'O Holy Night'". RIAA.com. Retrieved August 25, 2021.
  8. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-89820-177-2.
  9. ^ Whitburn 2008, p. 263.
  10. ^ "Chart History: Celine Dion – Holiday 100". Billboard.com. Archived from the original on November 2, 2020. Retrieved November 2, 2020.
  11. ^ ""All I Want For Christmas": Which Song Renditions Top the Tree?". Nielsen.com. Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  12. ^ "Chart History: Josh Groban – Adult Contemporary". Billboard.com. Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  13. ^ Whitburn 2008, p. 166.
  14. ^ "Glee Cast Chart History (Holiday Digital Song Sales)". Billboard.com. Retrieved November 7, 2020.
  15. ^ "Tribute to schoolboy is chart hit". Heraldscotland.com. November 24, 2012. Retrieved August 25, 2021.
  16. ^ "'O Holy Night' – Ladywell Primary School". Officialcharts.com. Retrieved August 25, 2021.
  17. ^ "Lauren Daigle – Christian AC History". Billboard.com. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
  18. ^ "Chart History: Lauren Daigle – Hot Christian Songs". Billboard.com. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
  19. ^ "Chart History: Lauren Daigle – Christian Airplay". Billboard.com. Retrieved June 12, 2021.

External linksEdit