O Holy Night

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

"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.


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]

Cover versions[edit]

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.[4] In French-language churches, it is commonly used at the beginning of the Midnight Mass.[5] Some recordings include:



Mariah Carey version[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[30] Gold 500,000double-dagger

double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


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  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. ^ "What are the original lyrics to 'O Holy Night' – and who has recorded it?". Classic FM.
  5. ^ Bronze, Jean-Yves (December 6, 2003). "The Minuit, Chrétiens in Québec". La Scena Musicale. 9 (4).
  6. ^ a b "Mariah Carey Chart History (Holiday 100)". Billboard. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-89820-177-2.
  8. ^ Whitburn 2008, p. 263.
  9. ^ "Chart History - Celine Dion - Holiday 100". Billboard.com. MRC. Archived from the original on November 2, 2020. Retrieved November 2, 2020.
  10. ^ ""All I Want For Christmas": Which Song Renditions Top the Tree?". www.nielsen.com. Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  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 2008, p. 166.
  14. ^ "Tribute to schoolboy is chart hit". The Herald (Glasgow)
  15. ^ a b "O Holy Night", Ladywell Primary School, officialcharts.com
  16. ^ "Glee Cast Chart History (Bubbling Under Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved November 7, 2020.
  17. ^ "Glee Cast Chart History (Holiday Digital Song Sales)". Billboard. Retrieved November 7, 2020.
  18. ^ "Classifiche" (in Italian). Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  19. ^ "2010년 48주차 Digital Chart" (in Korean). Gaon. Retrieved January 26, 2021.
  20. ^ "Billboard". Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  21. ^ "Josh Groban Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved May 21, 2021.
  22. ^ "Billboard". Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  23. ^ "John Berry Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved May 21, 2021.
  24. ^ "Martina McBride Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved May 21, 2021.
  25. ^ "Josh Gracin Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved May 21, 2021.
  26. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 21, 2021.
  27. ^ "Lauren Daigle Chart History (Hot Christian Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
  28. ^ "Lauren Daigle Chart History (Christian Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
  29. ^ "Lauren Daigle – Christian AC History". Billboard. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
  30. ^ "American album certifications – Mariah Carey – Holy". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved May 22, 2020.

External links[edit]