O Holy Night is the Double Black Diamond slope of Christmas songs. If there were a Christmas edition of American Idol or X-Factor, you would have to be out of your frickin’ mind to try this one unless you have the vocal chops to pull it off.
O Holy Night was composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847. It is a favorite at both Dr. J.’s current parish in New Atlantis and the parish of his ancestral home in the greater Philadelphia area. Back in the ‘hood, the local public high school music teacher, a Basso Profundo, who doubled as the best cantor at our parish would sing this while we were in prayerful contemplation after communion at the midnight mass. He was doing it for the 6 years straight that Dr. J. was the Altar Boy at midnight mass, then when he came home from college, and medical school, and even during Dr. J.’s residency. He probably is still doing it. His rendition remains, in Dr. J.’s mind the gold standard, or perhaps the male Platonic Form version of the song. He truly wishes he could share it with you, but that would be impossible.
At Dr. J.’s current parish last year, the best female cantor took a shot at it and did a good job. She did not do the best female rendition of it, but that is what radio is for.
Dr. J. has mentioned that the lil resident can sing. Dr. J. is also the kinda guy who likes to shake his presents to figure out what he is getting. He likens this to giving a gift a poor man’s ultrasound in order to take a virtual peak inside. Now Dr. J. has not shaken the lil resident, but Mrs. Dr. J. let slip last night that the lil resident is planning on giving her old man the gift of song for Christmas.
It is Dr. J.’s sneaking suspicion that the lil resident is going to put her indelible mark on this song, debuting it for her family at her Christmas voice recital, and Dr. J. is eagerly looking forward to it. It will probably be his favoritest gift of all time, and that includes the Atari 2600 he got when he was in 2nd Grade.
He highly suspects that the Gormogons will request a command performance this season. If that is the case, for reasons of Gormogon security, it will be behind locked doors on the Plateau of Leng and for Gormogons only. Even Dat Ho will have to sit outside the castle gates, lighting the matchsticks he should be selling in order to keep warm.
So, Dr. J. has to pick a version of this song to post, and given that when a woman sings it it is a very different song than when a man sings it, he will go with one of each.
As far as male vocals go, the one that Dr. J. likes second best (after Mr. Γ from the Delaware Valley) is the rendition by Josh Groban. Now while he is somewhere between a Tenor and a Baritone (much like Dr. J. was), his version is sufficiently different to prevent Dr. J. from comparing it to Mr Γ. Besides, Josh is in heavy rotation on XM 17 this season. Dr J. did think about Andrea Bocelli, but opted to go domestic.
Now, for the fans of female vocalists, Dr. J. has to go with ‘The Greatest Singer In The World’ Celine Dion’s version. Dr. J. listened to a number of celebrated female vocalists take a shot of this song. One or two of which he knows personally. He would have liked nothing more than to pick one of them, however Celine sings this song straight up. This is one of those songs that should not be on the rocks with a twist, or a Maraschino cherry (like ‘Puter’s Manhattans).