The nation's favourite Christmas Carol revealed

Britain's favourite Christmas carol has been revealed, and it's the first festive tune ever played over the radio.

Despite being French, O Holy Night topped the chart for the 12th time in the last 15 years - beating livelier tunes like Ding Dong Merrily on High.

O Holy Night came top in the annual search for the Nation’s Favourite Carol, by popular classical music station Classic FM - more than 100 years after it became the first Christmas song to be broadcast on the radio.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The carol is at number one for the second time since 2013, overtaking Silent Night which spent the previous two years at the top.

Despite it being French, O Holy Night ruled the airwaves from 2003 to 2013 - where it came top for a whopping ten years running.

Pop icon Myleene Klass said: “My favourite carol is O Holy Night.

“I think the melody is so wonderfully magical and the song completely captures the spirit of Christmas.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Before that, O Holy Night ruled the chart for 11 years from 2003 to 2013 inclusive.

It was composed by Adolphe Adam, in 1847, using lyrics taken from the French poem ‘Midnight, Christians.’

It reflects on the birth of Jesus and of humanity’s redemption.

In this year’s top 20, the highest climber is Ding Dong! Merrily on High.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The cheery carol, by English composer George Ratcliffe Woodward, and soared up four places to number 12.

The biggest faller is O Little Town of Bethlehem, dropping three places to number ten.

More than 10,000 people cast their votes online at to choose their favourite carol.

It is believed that O Holy Night was the very first carol to be played on the radio, because it first hit the airwaves on Christmas Eve - in 1906.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

On Christmas Eve 1906, a Canadian inventor called Reginald Fessenden broadcast the first medium wave radio programme, which included him playing O Holy Night on the violin.

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.

Presenter Brunning said: “Carols have been part of our Christmas celebrations for hundreds of years and this year’s poll proves they remain as popular as ever. The nation has chosen a wonderful carol as its favourite.

“Adolphe Adam’s O Holy Night has an anthemic quality and majestic melody with lyrics which tell the Christmas message about the promise of redemption.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“As the first piece of music ever to be broadacst on the radio, it’s fitting that, once again, it should top our annual chart on Classic FM, the home of Christmas music.”

But not everybody says O Holy Night is their favourite carol.

Gardener and presenter Alan Titchmarsh said: “It has to be Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.

“It has a soaring tenor line that I love, and when singing it with a full orchestra the last verse is wonderfully uplifting and celebratory. For me, it embodies the true spirit of a Christmas.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Classic FM presenter and Strictly star Charlotte Hawkins added: “O Come All Ye Faithful has always been my favourite Christmas carol.

“It is such a special one as it’s full of joy, is so uplifting and a real celebration.

“As a child, I loved the fact there was a verse you only sang on Christmas Day - it felt like a secret part of the hymn.

“It also has such a beautiful descant that I used to love singing in the choir, it is one that you really put your heart and soul into performing.

“To me, it is the hymn that most embodies Christmas.”

The Nation’s Favourite Carol 2017 - Top 20

1. O Holy Night

2. Silent Night

3. In The Bleak Midwinter (Gustav Holst version)

4. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

5. O Come All Ye Faithful

6. In The Bleak Midwinter (Howard Darke version)

7. Carol of the Bells

8. Once In Royal David’s City

9. Joy to the World

10. O Little Town of Bethlehem

11. O Come, O Come Emmanuel

12. Ding Dong! Merrily on High

13. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

14. Away in a Manger

15. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

16. Coventry Carol

17. In Dulci Jubilo

18. Gaudete

19. The Holly and the Ivy

20. The Three Kings

Related topics: