O Holy Night sheet music for all instruments, free! Lead sheets, vocal duets, and piano versions in 3 keys, with Oh Holy Night lyrics as a PDF (bottom of this page) for easy printing. The beautiful soaring melody of this Christmas song has been winning hearts for over 150 years. (If you want an easier Middle C version of this song, go to this page.)
Do you want to see your students' eyes light up? Just ask them if they have ever heard this Christmas song, and start to play the first line of "O Holy Night" chords. If they have ever heard it before, they will LONG to play it. Here is a moving video of the story told by "O Holy Night," Josh Groban singing:
Here is page 1 of the lead sheet O Holy Night sheet music, available here free in 3 keys:
Now for the piano arrangement...
It is the flowing chords that give the O Holy Night sheet music its special flavor. Never having found a version easy enough for my students but also lovely enough to want to play and work hard on, or even with which to accompany singers, I finally arranged my own version.
The chord pattern is different from the lilting chord inversion pattern usually heard with piano arrangements of O Holy Night, but my pattern frees the right hand to play the melody.
Here below are shown pages 1 & 3 of the O Holy Night sheet music, and now I am going to offer you a little music theory help, free!
(This piano version of O Holy Night sheet music is for sale, $2.75 USD for 5 copies)
The essentials of music theory are much more fun when you are discovering them in a real honest-to-goodness song, rather than in a workbook.
O Holy Night has all the chords belonging to the key; the I, ii, iii, IV, V and V7 both, and the vi chords. (In addition, we will encounter the V7 chord of the iii chord in the chord progression B7 to Em, which is explained as "borrowing" a chord from another key, the key of E minor, to temporarily give us the feeling of being in that minor key.) If kids are somewhat familiar with playing chords in inversions, then they may be ready for this song.
When I start O Holy Night sheet music with my younger students, it is always in the key of C. I have them read and play the first left-hand chord, then tell me its name (C). Even though it seems like that should be pretty obvious, the doubling of the C at the octave can cause confusion, especially if they haven't played the chord built in that manner, and kids are sometimes cautious about advancing an opinion about a chord if it shows up in unfamiliar guise!
Then they play along for a few measures, right into the F/C chord, usually without noticing that the chord has changed!
I may take the point of my pencil and direct their attention to the "f" after the "c" in measure 4. When I ask them to analyze this chord, I may have to say "Look for the interval of a 4th. The note at the top of the 4th is the name of the chord" -- or perhaps I will make the chord myself, an octave higher, then point out the 3 notes of the F chord in root position. They always recognize chords in root position. This slash chord, the F over C, is so beautiful that we usually start over so we can experience it again without hesitation (or so much hesitation, at least!).
The left hand then moves back into the C chord for a couple measures, and then the hand drops to a "g" -- most kids will start immediately to form a G chord, so I give them a warning to read carefully -- "It looks like it might be a G chord, but is it?" Having just made the F/C slash chord, they are more wary, and usually recognize quickly that it is really a C chord -- a C over G, written "C/G".
As we move along in the O Holy Night sheet music, we are writing the chord names at the top of each measure, right over the beat where each chord begins (not centered over the measure, which some kids are tempted to do).
In the next measure, the hand stays where it is, but changes to a G7 chord. It is pretty easy to read those intervals of 3rds. We count up from the bottom just to confirm that the top note, "f," is indeed 7 steps up from the bass note "g".
Then where do we go after a G7 chord? Most of my students know -- the G7 chord (or V7 chord) always makes us feel like "going home" to the main chord (tonic chord), C! And sure enough, that is just what happens.
On page 2, measure 29 of the O Holy Night sheet music (that page not shown here), the song moves briefly ("modulates") into the relative minor key of the key of C, Am. ("Fall... on your knees... ") We meet the Am chord, and its iv and v chords, which also happen to be the ii and iii chords of the key of C -- Dm and Am.
Now let's skip to page 3 of the O Holy Night sheet music...
After 2 pages of left hand chords in the same basic formation, finally something different in measures 43 & 44, just in time for the high point of the song!
Sometimes instead of having my students try to play those measures, I say, "Look at my hand. What am I doing?" and I perform the left hand only of those 2 measures. They see right away (since they can recognize chord inversions) that it is just a C chord inversion, broken, ascending. Then they try it.
Measure 45 of the O Holy Night sheet music is a root-position G chord, but the next measure may be harder to decipher for some. It is still a G chord, but it has changed into a G7 chord, with the "f" in the bass (and doubled at the top). Where is the "g" of the chord? In the right hand, and I point it out to my students.
So where does a G7 chord want to go? It goes to a C chord again, only it goes to that part of the C chord which is right next-door to the "f" of the G7 chord; it goes to an "e". Very beautiful voice-leading, or bass voice movement. It is one of the things I have always loved about this song.
That chord climbs and climbs and finally comes to rest at a simple F chord: it feels like a sigh of relief.
Later, when they are very familiar with the right hand and putting hands together, I suggest adding extra chord tones to some of the right hand notes. Actually, they are eager to do this themselves, once they understand that the extra notes are just part of the same chord!
And that is basically it. After thrashing through the left hand chords like this, the right hand is a breeze (except some kids will need help choosing fingering), so I frequently don't even go into it (depending on the student).
And now, O Holy Night lyrics and harmony part, for two voices! Sing this free Christmas song for a church duet.
My easy soprano/alto arrangement of O Holy Night sheet music will not take long for your singers to master... for the most part, the harmony stays a third or a sixth below the melody, without any complicated maneuvers.
There is only one place where I broke the rules a little, with a spot where the harmony crosses over the melody's previous note (a forbidden move in elementary voice leading). But the harmony part in measure 28 is begging for a bit of drama, so I allow it to break out of the lower notes.
Here is the free vocal sheet music for Oh Holy Night, duet:
Here is a lovely rendition of my free duet version, posted at Youtube by Dave and Shirley in Canada (thanks, Dave & Shirley - & Chris!):
Here are the Oh Holy Night lyrics, useful for sing-alongs, or just for saving paper!
The wonderful thing about a song like "O Holy Night" is that it is so motivating to play, for the sheer pleasure of hearing it come together, that kids will work and work on it. I have seen a lot of smiles lately, passing out this piece.
So why should you buy "O Holy Night" sheet music from me, aside from the fact that music stores charge more for just one copy (not counting postage or sales tax!), while I am only charging $2.75 for the right to print 5 copies?
* It is available immediately as a digital download onto your computer.
* You don't have to download any new software into your computer in order to download this PDF. I don't know about you, but I hate clogging up my computer with yet another program I didn't know I needed. You just need a version of Adobe Acrobat or another PDF reader, which all computers come with. If you DON'T have Adobe Acrobat or a similar program, then you couldn't download any of my other PDFs either.
* The notes and lyrics are a little bigger than most copies currently available in music stores, making reading easier!
* Speaking of reading the music, you can print this music on any kind of paper you want, and thus avoid the glare of shiny pages (so irritating for accompanists!).
*Write and make notes all over these copies, in red and other colors, without feeling you are spoiling your music for posterity. I dislike messing up my music books, but learning the piece is always the first priority. These printouts will make great working copies.
* Do you need a letter of permission in order to use this music at a competition? Write me through the Contact Me form, and I will email you a personal letter.
* I give you permission to make up to five copies legally. Do I speak tongue-in-cheek? Not at all -- as music teachers, as music students, you know there are times when you need music RIGHT NOW and your only recourse is to make a copy of copyrighted music...or do without. (People do what they have to do, but there are consequences... Cheating...just a little...is hard on one's character. I believe this is one of the keys of political corruption, one little compromise after another. Not only that, but music teachers teach by example. What are your students learning from you about the value of the work of composers, arrangers, and publishers? Of the value of musicians in general?)
*Paypal, the payment system I use, is a secure and recognized payment system. You can pay by credit or debit card, or your bank account. E-Junkie delivers the PDF document, working as a partner with PayPal...your purchase is guaranteed.
Tip for Printing Once you've got the PDF file for "O Holy Night", feed just one page at a time, unless you know you have high-quality paper which won't grab extra sheets when being pulled through the feeder.