O Holy Night
My favorite hymn, by many voices
This is, far and away, my most favorite Christmas hymn. I get chills whenever I hear the opening notes. I mean, every goshdarn time. So I made a playlist of different artists singing it. Listed by artist and album on which the version appears.
Leslie Odom, Jr., The Christmas Album
I hadn’t heard of Odom until Hamilton, and I feel like I’ve been missing out. This is the perfect way to open this playlist. He has a lovely voice, and he doesn’t play around here, delivering a heart-felt vocal over a lovely instrumental arrangement.
John Denver, Rocky Mountain Christmas
Denver has a voice like the cool, clear water that runs in the streams in his beloved Rocky Mountains. Pure, strong, and sure. Denver sings over piano and violin here, and this is probably my favorite version. Chills all the way through. He was taken from us too soon.
Not everyone loves Pentatonix, I am aware. However, this version of “O Holy Night” seems like one of their least produced holiday songs. Kirstin Maldonado sings lead on this, and in contrast to some of their later albums, it is a simple straight-forward adaptation, with the gents backing up her strong voice.
Mariah Carey, Merry Christmas
Not surprisingly, Mariah Carey Mariah-Careys this all up. That’s not a bad thing.
Arturo Chacon, A Christmas Wonderland
Opera version! Appropriately dramatic and overwrought.
Straight No Chaser, Christmas Cheers
Straight No Chaser are another a cappella group (see: Pentatonix), and they bring a warm, complex gospel sound to this hymn. If you haven’t listened to this album of Christmas/holiday songs from them, you should hasten to check it out.
Destiny’s Child (Michelle Williams), 8 Days of Christmas
This is my least favorite version of this hymn on this (yes, my self-curated) collection. Michelle Williams seems to be seeking her way into the song, and wants to bring a Whitney Houston vibe to it. She doesn’t get there.
Aaron Neville, Aaron Neville’s Soulful Christmas
Neville has the voice of an angel. Indeed, as promised in the title of this album, he brings a great deal of soul and gospel to this hymn.
Nat King Cole, The Christmas Song
An unparalleled classic.
Kim Walker-Smith, When Christmas Comes
I hadn’t heard of Walker-Smith before I searched up versions of O Holy Night on Spotify. I love the way she sings this song, starting off simply and building to a crescendo of instrumentation and praise.
Andrea Bocelli, My Christmas
Indeed, fall on your knees, and give thanks that we have been gifted the voice of this wonderful man.
Whether you celebrate holy days, host holidays of fun, or simply relish the mid-winter break, I hope that you find peace and health as we go into the new year. I hope that you know you are loved, that your soul knows its worth, and you feel a thrill of hope.
And if you are looking for a light in the darkness, I hope that you find it.
What’s your favorite holiday hymn or Christmas song?