Silent Night is the nation’s favourite Christmas carol, according to a YouGov poll released today. Online interviews took place with 1,162 adult Britons aged 18 and over on 21 and 22 December. The data table is available at:
Silent Night took 20% of the overall vote, being especially popular among the over-60s (26%) and Scots (24%). Next came O, Come All Ye Faithful (10%), Away in a Manger (6%), Once in Royal David’s City (5%), and O, Little Town of Bethlehem (5%). Twenty other named carols also made it to the list, and there was a category of other (4%).
Only 10% of respondents said that they did not like any Christmas carols, including 20% of 18-24s and 14% of men and Northerners. This is a sharp fall from the 28% recorded by Gallup in a survey undertaken in December 1996.
Silent Night likewise topped the chart in that Gallup poll (21%), O, Come All Ye Faithful and Away in a Manger then tying in second place (9% each). A survey by NOP two years later, in November 1998, gave Silent Night an even more commanding position (33%).
The original lyrics of Silent Night (Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht) were written in Austria by Father Joseph Mohr in 1816. The carol was first performed in the Nikolaus-Kirche, Oberndorf on 24 December 1818, to a melody composed by Franz Xaver Gruber.
The English translation usually sung today appeared in 1859, and there have also been translations into more than forty other languages. British, French and German troops all sung it in the trenches during the Christmas truce of 1914.
The carol has been recorded by over three hundred artists, but it is probably the version recorded by Bing Crosby in the 1940s, which introduced it to a mass market, that still resonates most with the older generation today.
Whether carols are to your taste or not, all of us here at BRIN send our seasonal greetings and thanks for your encouragement and support during 2010. We shall be back with you again soon.