O Holy Night/Minuit,
Music by: Adolphe Adam
French Lyrics: Placide Cappeau
English Lyrics: John S. Dwight
Arranged by: Ruth Randle 2011
This majestic carol originated as a Christmas
poem, Minuit, Chretiens, written at the request of a
French parish priest by a local wine merchant and poet, Adolphe
Adam, in 1847. Details of how this French poem became a
Christmas Carol, with English words added much later, may be
found in the Historical Link below.
John S. Dwight's English lyrics, written much later, initially
comprised six ponderous verses in length, narrating nearly the
entire book of Luke, from the New Testament. By 1900, usage had
reduced the text to the three verses shown here.
The original music was written in the key of Db (5 flats),
with a time signature referred to as "cut time",
similar to 2/4. Both features made arranging tedious and
unnecessarily difficult. Ruth solved both these problems nicely
by transposing the piece to the key of A (using a D-F#-A
tuning, and converting to a 6/8 time signature. The result...
two clean and clear pages that play easily and sound lovely. We
hope this carol, O Holy Night, will become one of your
We are presenting it also in the French language
version, Minuit, Chretiens.
As a Christmas bonus, we are
including a second piece.
Good King Wenceslas
Lyrics: John M. Neale (1853)
Music: Tempus Adest Floridum -
16th Century, Adapted by Thomas Helmore
Arr: Merv Rowley, 2011
This old carol is based upon an actual person, a Czech nobleman
named Wenceslaus, whose title was Duke of Bohemia. He had also attained the title of Saint, from the Church of Rome, and had dedicated his life to
providing alms to the poor during those Dark Ages of the 10th Century in which he lived.
It was not until 1853 that an Englishman, John M. Neale, decided to write a carol about Wenceslaus,
using the English spelling, Wenceslas. He did so in collaboration with a composer named
Thomas Helmore, who had selected a piece of music named Tempus Adest
Floridum (Time is coming for flowering) - Springtime music with a Latin Text. Thus was born
Good King Wenceslas.
It is one of the few carols that makes little direct mention of
either Christ or the Nativity, choosing instead a theme of " Love thy neighbor as
thyself," a Christian Commandment which we all know.
Your 1-3-5 Team