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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

December 19, 2015

O Holy Night

evelyn @ 9:10 pm

I thought I was being clever, but it has backfired on me. There’s a good chance that by Christmas Eve I will have alienated the entire congregation.

‘O Holy Night’  is one of those songs which people either adore or hate. First performed in France in 1847 to music by Adolphe Adam, it is Romantic and operatic in style. A real period piece, but a jolly good congregational belt. However, it doesn’t feature in hymn books as the traditional carols do, and the aria-like melody and slightly political overtones do turn many people off. But whether it is loved or loathed, those on both sides of the argument are passionate about it.

Dedicated supporters from our congregation had ensured its being on the menu for the last five or six years. This year, however, there was a determined fight-back from some of the ladies in the choir:

‘Oh no, not that one again!
‘Can’t we give it a break for once?’
‘It’s just so corny!

I suggested to our priest that we leave it out this year. ‘That seems a shame’, he said, ‘O Holy Night is a wonderful song which we only get to sing on Christmas Eve’. I hadn’t realised he was in the pro-Holy-Night camp.

I persevered, however, pointing out that as the words weren’t in the hymn book, they would have to be printed off specially, and it was that argument which persuaded him to give it a miss this year. The anti-Holy-Nighters rejoiced.

When the decision was announced to the choir by email, one of the men replied that he was greatly disappointed. Then, at last week’s practice, all the men ganged up and declared that they were in rebellion.

Well, we can’t upset our men. Nor can we expect our priest to print out a new leaflet at this stage. So to placate the men we’ll sing ‘O Holy Night’ as a choir piece during the carol service. This will annoy both camps for different reasons, and I’ll probably get the blame.

Deservedly, perhaps.


  1. I expect your men will sound a bit better than these old goats: (second one down)


    Comment by Michael — December 20, 2015 @ 8:17 pm

  2. Absolutely brilliant, Michael! Am using it in the sequel (see today’s post). Merry Christmas to you and yours, not forgetting Erasmus.

    Comment by evelyn — December 20, 2015 @ 8:42 pm

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