"O Holy Night" (original title: 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, Chrétien, c'est l'heure solennelle" (Midnight, Christian, is the solemn hour) that composer Adolphe Adam set to music in 1847. The English version (with small changes to the initial melody) is by John Sullivan Dwight. The carol reflects on the birth of Jesus as humanity's redemption.
|O Holy Night|
|by Adolphe Adam|
|Native name||Minuit, chrétiens|
Performed by the United States Air Force Heritage of America Band
In Roquemaure in France 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. Soon afterwards, in that same year, Adolphe Adam composed the music. The song was premiered in Roquemaure in 1847 by the opera singer Emily Laurey.
Transcendentalist, music critic, minister, and editor of Dwight's Journal of Music, John Dwight, adapted the song into English in 1855. This version became popular in the United States, especially in the North, where the third verse resonated with abolitionists, including Dwight himself.
The wide vocal range of the song makes it one of the more difficult Christmas songs to execute properly, especially for untrained amateurs. In French-language churches, it is commonly used at the beginning of the Midnight Mass.
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. Several renditions by popular artists have appeared on record charts:
- 1971: Tommy Drennan and the Monarchs reached Christmas No. 1 in the Official Irish Singles Chart
- 1994: Mariah Carey, from her first studio holiday album, Merry Christmas, reached No. 70 on the US Billboard Holiday 100 chart. It was re-released as a single in 1996 and 2000; a re-recorded live rendition is included on her 2010 follow-up album Merry Christmas II You. In 2019, her single was certified Gold in the US by RIAA. It also reached No. 31 in Italy and it was certified Gold. It also reached the top-twenty in Iceland, peaking at number 19.
- 1996: John Berry No. 55 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart
- 1997: Martina McBride 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)
- 1998: Celine Dion No. 44 on Billboard's Holiday chart; in 2014, Nielsen SoundScan reported that her version had sold 240,000 copies in the US.
- 2002: Josh Groban No. 1 Billboard Adult Contemporary chart
- 2006: Josh Gracin No. 59 on Hot Country Songs chart
- 2010–2011: Glee cast No. 1 US Billboard Holiday Digital Song Sales chart
- 2012: Ladywell Primary School in Motherwell, Scotland, released "O Holy Night" as a digital download on November 21, 2012. 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. It reached No. 39 on the UK Singles Chart.
- 2017–2018: Lauren Daigle No. 14 US Billboard Christian adult contemporary, No. 33 US Hot Christian Songs, and No. 33 US Christian Airplay charts
- Collins, Ace (2001). Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. pp. 132–138. ISBN 9780310873877.
- Nobbman, Dale V. Christmas Music Companion Fact Book. 2000. p. 36. Google Books
- Forget, Dominique (December 24, 2017). "Minuit, chrétiens et l'aigu fatidique". Québec Science. Archived from the original on May 22, 2021. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
- Bronze, Jean-Yves (December 6, 2003). "The Minuit, Chrétiens in Québec". La Scena Musicale. 9 (4). Archived from the original on January 26, 2021. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
- "What are the original lyrics to 'O Holy Night' – and who has recorded it?". Classic FM. Archived from the original on May 22, 2021. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
- "Every Christmas Number 1 on the Official Irish Singles Chart". www.officialcharts.com. Archived from the original on May 24, 2019. Retrieved December 23, 2021.
- "Mariah Carey Chart History (Holiday 100)". Billboard.com. Archived from the original on December 7, 2021. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
- "Mariah Carey 'O Holy Night'". RIAA.com. Archived from the original on June 24, 2016. Retrieved August 25, 2021.
- "Certificazioni - FIMI". Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Archived from the original on February 4, 2019. Retrieved January 3, 2022.
- "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (22.12.1994 – 27.12.1994)" (PDF). Dagblaðið Vísir – Tónlist. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 13, 2019. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
- Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-89820-177-2.
- Whitburn 2008, p. 263.
- "Chart History: Celine Dion – Holiday 100". Billboard.com. Archived from the original on November 2, 2020. Retrieved November 2, 2020.
- ""All I Want For Christmas": Which Song Renditions Top the Tree?". Nielsen.com. Archived from the original on May 19, 2021. Retrieved May 19, 2021.
- "Chart History: Josh Groban – Adult Contemporary". Billboard.com. Archived from the original on January 8, 2022. Retrieved May 19, 2021.
- Whitburn 2008, p. 166.
- "Glee Cast Chart History (Holiday Digital Song Sales)". Billboard.com. Archived from the original on December 3, 2021. Retrieved November 7, 2020.
- "Tribute to schoolboy is chart hit". Heraldscotland.com. November 24, 2012. Archived from the original on August 25, 2021. Retrieved August 25, 2021.
- "'O Holy Night' – Ladywell Primary School". Officialcharts.com. Archived from the original on May 21, 2021. Retrieved August 25, 2021.
- "Lauren Daigle – Christian AC History". Billboard.com. Archived from the original on January 8, 2022. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
- "Chart History: Lauren Daigle – Hot Christian Songs". Billboard.com. Archived from the original on November 18, 2021. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
- "Chart History: Lauren Daigle – Christian Airplay". Billboard.com. Archived from the original on November 17, 2021. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
- French Wikisource has original text related to this article: Minuit chrétiens
- "Cantique de Noël": Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Free sheet music for voice and piano, Cantorion.org
- Sheet music and musical details, artsongcentral.com
- on YouTube, Charles Jauquier (original French version)