O Holy Night

"O Holy Night" (also known as "Cantique de Noël") is a well-known Christmas carol composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to the French poem "Minuit, chrétiens" (Midnight, Christians) by poet Placide Cappeau (1808–1877). The carol reflects on the birth of Jesus as humanity's redemption.

O Holy Night
by Adolphe Adam
Adolphe Adam -1856 -sized.JPG
Adolphe Adam
Native nameMinuit, chrétiens
GenreClassical, Christmas
TextPlacide Cappeau
LanguageFrench, English
Composed1847 (1847)


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, translated the song into English in 1855.[2]


Placide Cappeau's Cantique de Noël Literal English translation[3] John Sullivan Dwight's version

Minuit, chrétiens, c'est l'heure solennelle,
Où l'Homme Dieu descendit jusqu'à nous
Pour effacer la tache originelle
Et de Son Père arrêter le courroux.
Le monde entier tressaille d'espérance
En cette nuit qui lui donne un Sauveur.

   Peuple à genoux, attends ta délivrance.
   Noël, Noël, voici le Rédempteur,
   Noël, Noël, voici le Rédempteur!

De notre foi que la lumière ardente
Nous guide tous au berceau de l'Enfant,
Comme autrefois une étoile brillante
Y conduisit les chefs de l'Orient.
Le Roi des rois naît dans une humble crèche
Puissants du jour, fiers de votre grandeur,

   A votre orgueil, c'est de là que Dieu prêche.
   Courbez vos fronts devant le Rédempteur.
   Courbez vos fronts devant le Rédempteur.

Le Rédempteur a brisé toute entrave
La terre est libre, et le ciel est ouvert.
Il voit un frère où n'était qu'un esclave,
L'amour unit ceux qu'enchaînait le fer.
Qui lui dira notre reconnaissance,
C'est pour nous tous qu'il naît, qu'il souffre et meurt.

   Peuple debout! Chante ta délivrance,
   Noël, Noël, chantons le Rédempteur,
   Noël, Noël, chantons le Rédempteur!

Midnight, Christians, is the solemn hour,
When God as man descended unto us
To erase the stain of original sin
And to end the wrath of His Father.
The entire world thrills with hope
On this night that gives it a Saviour.

   People, kneel down, await your deliverance.
   Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer,
   Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer!

May the ardent light of our Faith
Guide us all to the cradle of the infant,
As in ancient times a brilliant star
Guided the Oriental kings there.
The King of Kings was born in a humble manger;
O mighty ones of today, proud of your greatness,

   It is to your pride that God preaches.
   Bow your heads before the Redeemer!
   Bow your heads before the Redeemer!

The Redeemer has broken every bond
The Earth is free, and Heaven is open.
He sees a brother where there was only a slave,
Love unites those whom iron had chained.
Who will tell Him of our gratitude,
For all of us He is born, He suffers and dies.

   People, stand up! Sing of your deliverance,
   Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer,
   Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer!

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

   Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
   O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
   O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from the Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.

   He knows our need, to our weaknesses no stranger,
   Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
   Behold your King, Before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

   Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
   His power and glory evermore proclaim.
   His power and glory evermore proclaim.


The song has been recorded by numerous well-known popular-music, classical-music, and religious-music singers. Some notable versions include:

Ladywell Primary School versionEdit

"O Holy Night"
Single by Ladywell Primary School
ReleasedNovember 21, 2012
LabelLadywell Primary School

Ladywell Primary School in Motherwell, Scotland released "O Holy Night" as a digital download on November 21, 2012.[4] The school donated 90 percent of proceeds from the song to the Meningitis Research Foundation in memory of a student who died of meningococcal septicaemia. The remaining 10 percent went to school funds.[5]

The song entered the UK Singles Chart at number 64 in the chart for week ending 1 December 2012[6] and number 15 on the Scottish Singles Charts.[citation needed] In its second week it climbed to number 39 on the UK Singles Chart[6] and number 5 on the Scottish Singles Charts.[citation needed]

Other versionsEdit

  • 1994: Mariah Carey's rendition, featured on her first studio holiday album, Merry Christmas, which sold 15 million copies worldwide, charted at No. 8 on the Billboard Holiday Digital Song Sales chart.[7][8] It was rereleased as a single in 1996 and 2000. She released a re-recorded live rendition on her 2010 follow-up album Merry Christmas II You.
  • 1996: John Berry's version charted at No. 55 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart.[9]
  • 1997: Martina McBride's rendering charted at No. 74 on Hot Country Songs chart (also No. 67 in 1998, No. 49 in 1999, No. 57 in 2000, and No. 41 in 2001)[10]
  • 2002: Josh Groban (No. 1 Billboard Adult Contemporary)[11][12]
  • 2006: Josh Gracin's version charted at No. 59 on Hot Country Songs chart[13]
  • 2017: Celine Dion's version charted at No. 44 on Billboard's Holiday chart[14]


Glee cast versionEdit

Chart (2010–11) Peak
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[15] 21
US Holiday Digital Song Sales (Billboard)[16] 1

Mariah Carey versionEdit

Chart (2018) Peak
US Holiday 100 (Billboard) 70[17]

Certifications and salesEdit

Mariah Carey versionEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[18] Gold 500,000 

 sales+streaming figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ Collins, Ace; [2001], Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, pp. 132–138.
  2. ^ Nobbman, Dale V. Christmas Music Companion Fact Book. 2000. p. 36. Google Books]
  3. ^ Scott, Brian (2015). But Do You Recall? 25 Days of Christmas Carols and the Stories Behind Them. Lulu.com. pp. 88–93. ISBN 9781329919594. [self-published source]
  4. ^ iTunes - Music - O Holy Night - Single by Ladywell Primary School
  5. ^ Tribute to schoolboy is chart hit. Herald Scotland
  6. ^ a b [1]
  7. ^ "Mariah Carey's 'All I Want for Christmas Is You' Hits New Hot 100 High, Reaches Top 20 for First Time". Billboard. December 21, 2015. Retrieved June 10, 2018.
  8. ^ "Holiday Digital Song Sales-November 20, 2010". www.billboard.com.
  9. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 49. ISBN 0-89820-177-2.
  10. ^ Whitburn, p. 263
  11. ^ "Billboard Singles Charts | Record Research MusicVault". Musicarchivevault.com. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  12. ^ "That Josh Groban Guy". thatjoshgrobanguy.com. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  13. ^ Whitburn, p. 166
  14. ^ "Chart History - Celine Dion - Holiday 100". Billboard.com. MRC. Archived from the original on November 2, 2020. Retrieved November 2, 2020.
  15. ^ "Glee Cast Chart History (Bubbling Under Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved November 7, 2020.
  16. ^ "Glee Cast Chart History (Holiday Digital Song Sales)". Billboard. Retrieved November 7, 2020.
  17. ^ "Mariah Carey Chart History (Holiday 100)". Billboard. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  18. ^ "American album certifications – Mariah Carey – Holy". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved May 22, 2020. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

External linksEdit