O Holy Night for String Quartet – The tenth track on the Manor House String Quartet‘s second disc of Christmas Carols ‘It Came Upon The Midnight Clear and other carols’ is ‘O Holy Night’ (also known as ‘Cantique de Noel’). It is a carol written in 1847 by Adolphe Adam. Adam is now best known for his ballet ‘Giselle’ as well as being the teacher and mentor of Leo Delibes.
It is a setting of a poem by the poet and wine merchant Placide Cappeau entitled ‘Minuit, Chretiens’ (‘Midnight, Christians’). It is an impassioned piece telling of the birth of Christ and salvation of mankind and is perfectly suited to the operatic treatment given to it by Adam.
This arrangement by violinist Vaughan Jones was taken from the full orchestral version and is therefore thick in texture (with as many as seven parts occurring simultaneously at times). It remains faithful to the original without any embellishment and provides a contrast to the more traditional melodies on offer elsewhere in the disc (you can here a sample of it, as well as the other 22 carols on the disc by clicking on the link ‘It Came Upon The Midnight Clear…’).
You can also purchase the sheet music of Vaughan’s arrangement for the combinations of string quartet and string orchestra here: