Twelve Songs of Christmas: Day 12

Song #12: O Holy Night

Sam’s Pick:  John Berry

If this list has shown anything, it’s that I’m partial to a good reworking of a Christmas standard – something that stands out from the hundreds of other versions.

But for “O Holy Night,” there is nothing like Berry’s simple, traditional, note-perfect version. It’s a particular favorite among golden-voiced singers like Josh Groban and Andrea Bocelli, but Berry’s is the gold standard.

Leeann’s Pick: Martina McBride

This song is meant to be powerfully sung, even belted. Who better to fulfill this requirement than Martina McBride? On my favorite Christmas song, McBride doesn’t disappoint.

BONUS PICKS:

Jonathan Keefe: John Berry

I have to second Sam’s mention of John Berry’s rendition of this song. Among the religious-themed Christmas standards, “O Holy Night” is far away my favorite, thanks to its flawless construction and evocative melody. The problem with the song, though, is that melody and the dramatic crescendo in the refrain both make it real, real easy to oversing. Right, Celine?

Berry, who is absolutely one of the most gifted and underrated singers in country music’s rich history of gifted and underrated singers, takes a far more low-key approach to the song, letting the purity and warmth of his vocal tone and the soulfulness of his slow vibrato convey a real sense of reverence for the song’s message and narrative.

On a song that’s too often undone by bombastic performances and arrangements, Berry’s approach is a gift that keeps on giving.

Kevin Coyne: Carrie Underwood

For the same reason Berry and McBride are mentioned above. For me, Carrie Underwood has the most powerful voice out there, able to alternate between subtlety and raw power with ease.

It seems only fitting that a talent on loan from God should sing about the birth of His son so beautifully.

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6 Comments

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6 Responses to Twelve Songs of Christmas: Day 12

  1. Motown MikeNo Gravatar

    I know this is Country Universe and that thanks to radio the song is vastly overplayed, but Josh Groban still wins this one hands down versus any other artist out there.

  2. PSU MikeNo Gravatar

    When I think of this song, I think of John Berry and Martina McBride. Outstanding choices, guys.

  3. Erik NorthNo Gravatar

    Besides all the ones mentioned already, I would like to put in a good word for two other versions, one by Aaron Neville, and the other done either in the late 70s or early 80s by Anne Murray.

  4. ChrisNo Gravatar

    There is a reason why every single from Carrie either goes to #1 (14) or #2 (3). Her golden voice. She can sing any genre and sound awesome. Martina, not so much. John Berry??

  5. LynnNo Gravatar

    @Chris – This is not a competition you know, nor a discussion of popularity at country radio. They are just citing versions of Christmas songs that they love. No need to diss Martina McBride and John Berry, or other artists for that matter, to elevate Carrie Underwood’s status.

  6. HildaNo Gravatar

    This is the 1st time I have heard John Berry version and I agree what a great rendition. Love Carrie and Martina versions as well.

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