O Holy Night, a Magnificent Christmas Carol
The song O Holy Night is my all-time favorite Christmas carol. I am not a particularly religious person and am not ordinarily moved by most hymns, but this song never fails to bring me to tears. Of course, sometimes I cry because I'm hearing a particularly bad version and I'm weeping for the humanity of it all. But usually, the emotional reactions of the singer and the wonderfully touching lyrics of the song always manage to move me greatly. A couple of years ago I had at least ten different versions of the song on my iPod; right now I have three versions, one of them is a reggae instrumental version.
O Holy Night (Minuit, chrétiens, c'est l'heure solennelle) was written by Adolphe Adam in 1847, based on a poem by Placide Cappeau. Cappeau was a French poet who had been asked by his parish priest to write a Christmas poem, Adam set it to music. The song was translated into English in 1855 by John Sullivan Dwight, a Unitarian minister. On Christmas Eve of 1906, an instrumental version of O Holy Night played on the violin became the first music ever broadcast on radio.
Almost every singer you can think of has recorded O Holy Night, from Clay Aiken to Trisha Yearwood. Some do a better job of it than others. It's almost as it's seen as a rite of passage for successful singers to record this song. It's as if it's one way they think they can be taken seriously.
I don't think anyone does the song better than Andy William, and I have featured it here. Hearing him sing O Holy Night brings me back to those wonderful Christmas specials of his. It was the highlight of the Christmas season in my house to watch the Andy Williams Christmas Specials.
This hub celebrates some of the better versions of O Holy Night, plus some comic relief courtesy of South Park. In addition to Andy Williams' version, there is an instrumental version by the Aqua Velvets taped on a beach, a couple of Celtic versions courtesy of Celtic Woman and the Corrs, Josh Groban lends his operatic/pop styling to one of my favorite versions of the song, and the similarly smooth but very different sounds of Johnny Mathis and Nat King Cole round it all off. Enjoy some great versions of the greatest Christmas carol ever written.
Celtic Woman, recorded at Sloan Castle, Ireland
Josh Groban, Rockefeller Center 2002
The Corrs, a touch of the old green
Nat King Cole
Aqua Velvets, an Hawaiian Christmas
Eric Cartman: A Shocking Version
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