Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Christmas Songs

'O Holy Night'
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.

The composer of "O Holy Night," Adolphe Charles Adam, found himself in the midst of controversy when his song received a negative reaction from French church authorities. The nineteenth-century composer, known for his ballet Giselle, was accused of having "a lack of musical taste" by a French bishop.

Happily, society disagreed. Poet Cappeau de Roquemaure added lyrics to Adam's music, renaming it "Cantique de Noel." Later, a translation by American composer John Sullivan Dwight brought the English version to our shores. Today, the solemn "O Holy Night" is sung as a popular Christmas Eve solo.

"O Holy Night" Lyrics

O holy night, the stars are brightly shinning,

It is the night of the dear Savior's birth.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,

Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new glorous 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!

Christmas sheet music: "O Holy Night"

Thirteenth- or fourteenth-century Mystery Plays are the most likely origin for the following Christmas carol, "The First Noel." Learn about this Christmas classic on the next page.

More to Explore