O Holy Night named nation’s favourite Christmas carol

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  • Gustav Holst
    English composer
O Holy Night has again topped a poll of the nation’s favourite Christmas carols (Joe Giddens/PA (PA Archive)
O Holy Night has again topped a poll of the nation’s favourite Christmas carols (Joe Giddens/PA (PA Archive)

O Holy Night has topped a poll to find the nation’s favourite Christmas carol, beating Silent Night to the top spot.

Gustav Holst’s version of In The Bleak Midwinter came in at number three and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing was in fourth, in an annual survey by Classic FM.

O Holy Night, believed to be the first ever carol played on the radio, holds on to the top spot for the sixth year in a row.

Reginald Fessenden, a Canadian inventor, broadcast the first medium wave radio programme on Christmas Eve 1906, during which he played O Holy Night on the violin.

Over the years, the carol has been covered by music superstars including Mariah Carey Celine Dion Josh Groban and Andrea Bocelli.

The words for O Holy Night come from a French poem, while the music, composed by Adolphe Adam, followed later.

Howard Darke’s version of In The Bleak Midwinter is fifth place in the poll, while O Come All Ye Faithful, Carol Of The Bells, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, Once In Royal David’s City and Away In A Manger make up the rest of the top 10.

Classic FM’s John Brunning will present the countdown in a programme on Christmas Day (Matt Crossick/PA) (PA Archive)
Classic FM’s John Brunning will present the countdown in a programme on Christmas Day (Matt Crossick/PA) (PA Archive)

More than 17,000 votes were cast in the 20th year of the Classic FM poll.

There is one new entry this year – Angels From The Realms Of Glory – at number 27, while the highest climber is We Three Kings which is up three places to number 21.

The Coventry Carol is the biggest faller, down four places to number 19.

The countdown of the top 30 carols will be broadcast in a special Christmas Day programme – The Nation’s Favourite Carol – presented by John Brunning from 1pm on Classic FM and Global Player.

Brunning said: “Carols have been at the heart of Christmas for hundreds of years and continue to be enjoyed – and sung – by millions of people across the UK at this time of year.

“As a carol, O Holy Night has got it all. It has a beautiful melody, powerful words and, at its core, a story of hope and the promise of redemption.

“Its enduring popularity over the past years – through the good times as well as the challenges that we’re facing – is undeniable and it deserves its place as the nation’s favourite.”

The top 20 carols in the Classic FM poll are:

O Holy NightSilent NightIn The Bleak Midwinter (Gustav Holst version)Hark! The Herald Angels SingIn The Bleak Midwinter (Howard Darke version)O Come All Ye FaithfulCarol Of The BellsO Little Town Of BethlehemOnce In Royal David’s CityAway In A MangerJoy To The WorldO Come, O Come EmmanuelDing Dong! Merrily On HighGod Rest Ye Merry, GentlemenThe Holly And The IvyGood King WenceslasIn Dulci JubiloGaudeteCoventry CarolIt Came Upon A Midnight Clear.

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