O Holy Night

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O Holy Night
by Adolphe Adam
Adolphe Adam -1856 -sized.JPG
Adolphe Adam
Native nameCantique de Noël
GenreClassical, Christmas
TextPlacide Cappeau
LanguageFrench, English
Performed1847 (1847)

"O Holy Night" (French: "Minuit, chretiens", "Minuit, chretien" in original edition,[1] or "Cantique de Noël") is a well-known Christmas carol composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to the French poem "Minuit, chrétiens" (Midnight, Christians) written by wine merchant and poet Placide Cappeau (1808–1877). In both the French original and the English version of the carol, as well as in many other languages, the text reflects on the birth of Jesus as humanity's redemption.


"O Holy Night" piano solo

In Roquemaure at the end of 1843, the church organ had recently been renovated. To celebrate the event, the parish priest persuaded wine merchant and poet Placide Cappeau, a native of the town, to write a Christmas poem.[2] 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 lyrics in 1855.[3]


Placide Cappeau's Cantique de Noël Literal English translation[4] 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:


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Collins, Ace; [2001], Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas, Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan, pp. 132–138.
  3. ^ Nobbman, Dale V. Christmas Music Companion Fact Book. 2000. p 36. Google Books]
  4. ^ Scott, Brian K. But do you recall? 25 days of Christmas carols and the stories behind them. Lulu.com, 2015. pp. 88-93.
  5. ^ "A Pile o' Cole's Nat King Cole website - The Magic of Christmas". apileocole.alongthehall.com. Retrieved 2018-12-10.
  6. ^ "Christmas with Mahalia". MusicStack. Retrieved 2018-12-10.
  7. ^ "Mireille Mathieu – Mireille Mathieu Chante Noël (CD, Album) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-12-11.
  8. ^ "CD Album – Various Artistes – White Christmas, Volume 1 – Wisepack UK". 45worlds website. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  9. ^ http://www.musicarchivevault.com, (subscription required)
  10. ^ a b "Billboard Singles Charts | Record Research MusicVault". Musicarchivevault.com. Retrieved 2013-12-11.
  11. ^ "Top Annual Winter Holiday Tour To Kick Off November 6". Trans-siberian.com. Retrieved 2013-12-11.
  12. ^ "That Josh Groban Guy". That Josh Groban Guy. Retrieved 2013-12-11.
  13. ^ searchable RIAA database
  14. ^ "Italian tenor's album sales top five million – Thaindian News". Thaindian.com. 2009-12-30. Retrieved 2013-12-11.
  15. ^ "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.
  16. ^ "Holiday Digital Song Sales-November 20, 2010". www.billboard.com.
  17. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 49. ISBN 0-89820-177-2.
  18. ^ Whitburn, p. 263
  19. ^ Whitburn, p. 166

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