Peter Bloesch Listen

Holiday Pops Music ~
FULL Orchestra & Chorus

“O Holy Night”

(An arrangement of the carol by Adolphe Adam, 1847)

See Description, Instrumentation, Text Info, and Reviews at bottom of page.

STATUS:  Re-formatting into Sibelius — should be available in Fall of 2016


SCORING:  Large SATB chorus, accompanied by a large pops orchestra —
See the “Instrumentation” tab below.  DURATION:  ca. 4:30

DIFFICULTY:  The choral parts are of moderate difficulty, but the instrumental parts are more challenging, so I recommend that this piece be performed only by professional players.



Inherent in the original carol are two competing yet complementary emotions: On the one hand, there are tranquil sections that convey a sense of intimate reverence, but on the other hand, the carol has moments of extroverted grandeur.

My arrangement plays up both of these extremes, and in the process creates a striking musical contrast between the mystical introspection and the extroverted excitement of the original carol. This juxtaposition of emotions makes for much dramatic variety within this relatively short piece.

In the end, however, the mystical introspection wins: The extended orchestral ending melts away into a gentle pianissimo, evoking the tranquility of a peaceful nighttime sky.


CHOIR:  Large SATB chorus

3 Flutes (3rd Flute doubles on Piccolo)
1 Oboe + 1 English Horn
3 Clarinets in Bb
2 Bassoons + 1 Contrabassoon

4 Horns
3 Trumpets in C
3 Trombones
1 Tuba

1 timpanist (4 timps), plus 3 percussionists on the following instruments: Glockenspiel, Chimes, Vibraphone, Piatti, Suspended Cymbal, Triangle, Mark Tree, Bell Tree

HARP:  1 Harp

KEYBOARD:  1 electronic keyboard with the following two sounds:  acoustic piano, celeste

STRINGS:  Ideally, a minimum of 10, 10, 8, 8, 6, but slightly less than this is also doable.


O Holy Night

Poem by Placide Cappeau (1808-1877) —
Translated by John Sullivan Dwight, 1855

Complete text:

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees!  O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night divine, O night, O night Divine!

Truly He taught us to love one another.
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Fall on your knees!  Christ is the Lord!
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever!
His power and glory evermore proclaim!
His power and glory evermore proclaim!


Dr. Randal A. McChesney, choral conductor:

“Peter Bloesch displays vitality and creativity in his holiday pops arrangements, which delight both musician and audience significantly. Specifically, Peter finds creative and fresh ways to match the music to the text, which is unfortunately quite a rare thing to be found within the more 'established' holiday pops repertoire.

His penchant for the unexpected in works such as 'O Holy Night' startles audiences into rapt attention with their texture and beauty. Performances of these works have earned warm and enthusiastic audience reception.”

— Dr. Randal A. McChesney, Past President, Choristers Guild Board of Directors;  Executive Director, Richards Institute of Education and Research


Joe Harnell, Hollywood composer and arranger:

“I was deeply moved by your sensitive arrangement of 'O Holy Night' — it's got to be one of the best arrangements of this carol out there.”

— Joe Harnell, Film Composer, and Grammy Award-winning arranger for many celebrated singers, including Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Beverly Sills


The Cedar Rapids Gazette:

“The 120-voice Cedar Rapids Concert Chorale and the CRSO opened the second half of the concert with a bravura performance of 'O Holy Night,' as arranged by Peter Bloesch. The Iowan is no stranger to CRSO patrons, who vigorously applauded a performance of his arrangement of 'Fantasia on Two Christmas Carols' at the 1997 Holiday Pops concert.”

— The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Excerpt from a review by George C. Ford, copyright by the Cedar Rapids Gazette, reprinted with permission