Saturday, December 13, 2003

“The First Noel” charted for the first time

The First Noel

Davies Gilbert

Writer(s): Davies Gilbert (see lyrics here)

Published: 1823

First Charted: December 13, 2003 (Clay Aiken)

Peak (all versions): 78 BB, 9 AC, 19 CW, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions – all versions): -- radio, 83.4 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“The First Noel” is a traditional English carol of Cornish origins which dates back at least to the 16th or 17th century and possibly as early as the 13th century. CFM It refers to the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus, starting with the angels appearing to the shepherds and concluding with the arrival of the three wise men. CFM

The song was first known as “The First Nowell” in early modern English, an adaptation of “Noël,” a synonym of “Christmas” in French. WK It was first published in 1823 in the revised edition of Some Ancient Christmas Carols. Davies Gilbert edited and arranged it and also added some additional lyrics, hence him being credited with the song. WK

The original version had nine stanzas, but generally only five of them are sung today. CFM It is generally performed as a four-part hymn as arranged by John Stainer, an English composer who published “The First Noel” in 1871 in Carols, New and Old. CFM

The song has been recorded more than 1300 times SHS although surprisingly it didn’t chart until 2003 when Clay Aiken took it to #9 on the adult contemporary chart. Other versions to chart include those by Josh Groban & Faith Hill (2007, #20 AC), Mary J. Blige & the Clark Sisters (2007, #20 AC), and Gabby Barrett (2020, #78 BB, 19 CW). The highest-ranked version in the DMDB is by Nelson Eddy (1942). He had four top ten hits in 1935 and ’36, including the million-selling “Indian Love Call” with Jeanette MacDonald. PM

The first recorded version was by Tally-Ho! in 1902. SHS It has since been recorded by Frankie Avalon, Pat Boone, Mariah Carey, Johnny Cash, Nat “King” Cole, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Neil Diamond, the Everly Brothers, Ella Fitzgerald, “Tennessee” Ernie Ford, Connie Francis, the Glee Cast, Al Green, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Emmylou Harris, Whitney Houston, Mahalia Jackson, Patti LaBelle, Mario Lanza, Loretta Lynn, Henry Mancini, Johnny Mathis, Mitch Miller, the Miracles, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Anne Murray, Willie Nelson, Olivia Newton-John, the Osmond Brothers, Patti Page, Elvis Presley, REO Speedwagon, Lionel Richie, Kenny Rogers, Frank Sinatra, the Spinners, Carrie Underwood, Fred Waring & His Pennsylvanians, Lawrence Welk, Jackie Wilson, and Andy Williams. SHS


First posted 12/22/2023.

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