SILENT NIGHT is the nation’s favourite Christmas carol. It topped our poll, carried out with Classic FM, for the second year in a row.
O Holy Night was second favourite. The 19th-century hymn, which has been sung by Mariah Carey, Cher and Bing Crosby, had held the number one spot for 11 years from 2003 to 2013 and is believed to be the first carol played on the radio, in 1906.
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing came in at number three and Gustav Holst’s version of In The Bleak Mid-Winter was number four.
John Rutter is the most popular living composer of carols, with three entries in the top 30: Shepherd’s Pipe Carol, Candlelight Carol and Angel’s Carol.
More than 33,000 people have voted since the poll opened at the start of December, the most votes in the poll’s 15-year history.
The full countdown of the top 30 carols will be broadcast in a special Christmas Day programme, The Nation’s Favourite Carol, presented by John Brunning on Classic FM.
Silent Night was composed in the 19th century by Franz Gruber, an Austrian primary school teacher, to lyrics by Roman Catholic priest Joseph Mohr.
It has been translated into 44 languages and recorded by more than 300 artists, but may owe its existence to a hungry mouse.
Days before Christmas in 1818 mice ate their way through the bellows of an organ at St Nicholas church in the small Austrian town of Oberndorf near Salzburg.
Gruber, the resident organist, went to see his friend Mohr to explain that there would be no music for Christmas.
Mohr decided to write a new carol while Gruber wrote the tune, and Stille Nacht – Silent Night – was the result.
It was played for the first time on a guitar at midnight mass that year.
Sam Jackson, Classic FM’s managing editor, said: “This is only the third time in the history of our poll that Silent Night has made it to number one. After reaching the top of the countdown last year, this timeless piece of music clearly continues to resonate with the nation more than any other carol.”
? The Nation’s Favourite Carol is on Classic FM on Christmas Day from 1pm.