Jeff’s Favorite Christmas Carol

Lucy shared with you her favorite Christmas carol (song) on Tuesday, so I thought I would talk about my favorite one today, on Christmas Eve (eve is short for evening, but here means really the day before Christmas, December 24th).  Like Lucy, I found it difficult to choose my favorite because I like so many of them.  And like Lucy, I thought about my childhood and the carols I first learned to love.

I remember each year my family and I would go to St. Columba Church (just a few blocks from our house) on Christmas Eve and hear these wonderful songs and hymns (religious songs, usually sung as part of a religious service or event).  The church was always crowded (usually with people you didn’t see in church except on Christmas!), but the mood (atmosphere, feeling) was one of joy and real happiness to be celebrating this great day of Christmas.

The choir (group of singers) was always joined by a man named Connelly, a singer who was a member of the church community who had a beautiful, deep, powerful baritone (very low-sounding) voice.  (Everyone called him “Pops,” but I’m not sure why.  Pops is an (old) informal term meaning “dad” or “father.”)  Toward the end of our celebration, Pops Connelly would have a solo (singing by himself), and it was always the song, “O Holy Night.”  (Holy means sacred, dedicated to God, very good.)  Each year when I heard it, it reminded me of the “true” spirit of Christmas, of why we were there.  The song was written originally as a poem in French in the 19th century (1800s) and was later translated into English.

This rendition (version, performance) was done by the incomparable (unable to be compared to anyone else, because he is so great) Nat King Cole, a popular American singer in the 1940s and ’50s.  Cole doesn’t have the same deep voice, but he always sings with emotion, and it is difficult not to be moved (affected emotionally) by the way he interprets (performs) this carol.

A very Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it on this “holy night”!


“O Holy Night”
sung by Nat King Cole

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 angels’ voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O  night divine, O night, O night divine!

Fall on your knees! O hear the angels’ voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O  night divine, O night, O night divine!

Saviour = someone who saves or rescues you from some danger; here, Jesus Christ
long lay = for a long time there existed/there was
pining = experiencing some pain (mental or physical) because you have been disappointed in love; wanting or desiring the return of someone you love
felt its worth = believed that it was valuable
weary = tired
rejoices = celebrates
yonder = over there, at a great distance, far away (old-fashioned, poetic term)
breaks…morn = begins a new morning, a new day, with the sun rising
Fall on your knees = kneel, put both knees on the ground as if to pray
divine = relating to God
Christ = literally the “anointed” or chosen one; here, Jesus Christ, whose birth is celebrated on Christmas (the “mas” is short for Mass, the Catholic religious service)

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29 Responses to Jeff’s Favorite Christmas Carol

  1. Lanter Hermann says:

    Dear Lucy, dear Jeff,
    Two wonderful songs ! We wish you a very Merry Christmas and thank you for all your wonderful work !
    Best wishes.
    Hermann, Silvia, Anja, Viviane

  2. Tania says:

    Hi ! The most beautiful present in this Holy Night , Dr. Jeff . Thank you .
    Merry Christmas !


  3. Tania says:

    Hi ! It is Christmas Eve . Can you hear the bells ? Is it Santa Claus ? Yes, I think so . Hush !

    Jingle bells, jingle bells
    Jingle all the way
    Oh , what fun it is to ride
    In a one horse open sleigh .

    Merry Christmas to all our blog friends ,


  4. emiliano says:

    Jeff, I did just the same like you when I was young and live with my parents. At 12 night, 0 hours of 25th, we went to the Church to be present at “misa del gallo” we call it these way I don´t know why. But it was the same hour the Pope at Rome said it.
    We don´t use to sing so much as you americans do, but I like the songs very much and this one of my loved Nat King Cole is really incredible.
    I have never listed it before so it has been a big pleasure to listen to it for the first time.
    Thank you so much by sharing with us your nice remembrances, this is your way of teaching what it is really lovely.
    May be this is the reason we want you so much Jeff, and the ESL podcast are the best of all.
    Thank you Jeff, thank you Lucy, you are really good friends to me and this night I feel you very close.

  5. Gaurav says:

    Merry Christmas!

    Wonderful carol, Jeff.

  6. Peter says:

    Merry Christmas guys,

    Lucy, I hate to break it to you, but the Carol Jeff Favours wins by a long shot.Very spiritual and powerful.

    Thanks for both beautiful carol you picked out guys. Both were full of Christmas spirit.

    My folks( parents) are over to spend the day with me.Christmas day is a major statuary holiday Even God is off today(LOL),so I have nothing to do but hang out in the house.
    Don’t get me wrong .No intention to kill the buzz.

    Guys I know, There is still one week left to the end of the year ,but I wanna tell you I chose the Experession “cutting across the generation lines” as the best of the year 2009. I mean the best term Jeff and Lucy came up with ( taught us ) in the year 2009.


    Enjoy the holiday
    P.S. tomorrow is Boxing Day The busiest day of the year when people swarm to the shopping centers to load up on all the knock-offs ( a cheap copy of brand-name products) piled up on stores’ racks.

  7. Peter says:

    By the Way,


    The movie “INVICTUS “is your type of movie. go catch it . it bears a very powerful theme.Don’y worry man. it is not a chick flick

  8. Peter says:

    Sorry, my dear Tiania ,

    I some how left you out . BE A PALL( for a guy) AND A DOLL(for a feamle)

    Terribly sorry,

  9. Peter says:

    As Nellson Modalla once said,

    I am the master of my fate ; I am the captain of my soul

  10. magda says:

    Thanks Jeff for sharing this wonderful song. You are awesome. I almost cried with your carol. You do a wonderful work, and I wish you a Great 2010. With love.

  11. Peter says:

    I rewatched “invictus” Pretty heavy stuff. I mean it is heavy.

    This year we got rainy Christmass not snowy not even one flake.We were suposed to get lots of snow today but in a way it tampered off to rain. it is pouring down though.
    I am not a big fan of snowfall.But,Christmas day must be snowy. Damn rain ruined everything

  12. Tania says:

    Hi ! Peter , I do not understand you very well . In my dictionary to pall means to become uninteresting or boring .
    Do you want to hurt me ? Even in this special day ? I am sorry if I have said something wrong to you . All is just for conversation , to practice our English .
    If I disturb you , please ignore me and I ‘ll do the same .


  13. marsan says:

    Thank you Jeff for this beautiful for long time I heart this song but it is the first time that I understand the meaning.

    Happy Holidays and blessing New Year.

  14. dongsung says:

    Thank you for the wonderful song Jeff, it makes me very calm now.
    your every efforts to everyone who listen to this podcast are appreaciate.
    thank you again and happy new year.

  15. Peter says:

    I heard some people mutter : happy holidays as opposed to some other who utter :happy holiday

    which one is right?

    Lucy,Could you clear up the matter

    thanks and Merry Christmas!!

    Ha,ha,ha! Merry Christmas to you all ,and to all a good night!
    Lucy ,you hit a home run this taught us numerous meaningful expressions,and ,as I said before,my cherry pick is : cut across generational line.

    Taking some expressions at a random and shap the up into an educational ,meaningful literary art form for more than 4 years without dropping the ball even once ,Lucy,I take my hat off to you.
    You hit a home run.I know for a fact that you are saying : what else is new!

  16. Peter says:


    I wrot down pal which mans friend

    be a pal means be a friend .it is a very common slang.

    When you want your male friend do something for you,you can put “be a pal” in front of your sentese to soften the imprative tone of the requisition

    for Example:

    when Lucy Spotted the bar of choclate laying on the Jeff’s desk she could have said:Jeff be a pall ,and pass me that choclate
    but,let me add that in reffer to femail friends you should use the expresion” be a doll”
    I don’t know if you noticed or not.I some times use it with Lucy
    for example:
    Lucy ,be a doll ,and explain the expression ” don’t get ahead of yourself.”
    that means Lucy ,be a good friend ,and explain the expresion which is a very common expression
    Now,Tania,you can say:
    Lucy,be a doll, and explain the aforementioned expression.

    My bad ,tania
    sorry for misspelling
    I wish you were here ,so I could aplogize to you in person!

  17. Tania says:

    Hi ! Indeed , and in my dictionary pal means friend . I know you are not a bad pal , still …


  18. Peter says:

    Tania ,

    We are good ?

  19. Peter says:

    My Dearest Profs

    The carols you picked are growing on me ,the more I listen,the more l like. Very passionate and compassionate stuff,heavy! Honest ,I am not big on carols. They are too sappy for my taste.The fact of the matter is That I am not as mucho as I sound ,still,to me, carols are kind of sissy . It was different story If they were saucy(LOL) . However , you guys are guilty as charged (LOL)because you turned me on to them.I am thinking of picking up a CD containing 8 or 9 Carols.

    Tania , one more time ,I deeply sorry.

    let bygones be bygones,

  20. Peter says:


    thanks for being a good sport about the whole thing.

  21. Baktiar -Iraq says:

    Hi everyone , it is just a few days separating as from new year, i hope new year becomes year of happiness and make wishes and achieveing un achieved objects and aims, i ask you to become more comfortable and happy. for me 2009 is year of surprise and self education and getting more life and professional and academic experiences, the worest thing happened to me was unexpected death of my mother the pillar of my life and my personal backbone, when i remember her i feel with deep grief and keen sorry that i could not make her happy for at leat just a few minutes.she was a person with full energy of life and creativity and knowledge and ambigious attitude,her an achieved message in life which she took her with herself forever is still a live in my heart and my mind, i will do my best to practice it in the my life and career and my personal strategy.

  22. emiliano says:

    To all our Blog´s friends I wish a Happy New Year. To ESL team, Jeff and Lucy, all the best as you are the one.
    To you Tania in special a very very happy and good new year.
    You are the nicest one here and I particularly like all your writing very much.
    It is like fresh air to me that gives me optimism and good feelings, you are going to be my favorite English poet.
    Thank you Tania, be always as you are here, cheerful and the nicest one.

  23. Peter says:

    Three days have past still Christmas is in the air.everywhere you go you see happy faces .you see people walk in groups trying hard to enjoy themselves.seems like the world as we know it gives way to something beautiful ,something passionate.
    people who were my arch-enemy yesterday are my close friends today.homeless people who were ignored yesterday are fully attended today.churches that were deserted yesterday are packed today.seems like ,all of a sudden , people remembered fait and God on the top of it.

    I wish, every day was christmass ,and I wish, all the beauty in the air lasted more than the life of a dew on a leaf.alas,this is a dream that no one can live!

    By now

  24. roberto says:

    I want to wish Happy New Year to everybody, especially to Lucy and Jeff and all people who works in ESL.
    Also I hope that everyone who writes in this blog continued doing it and improved our English even faster (as Jeff would say).
    My favourite song in this time is “White Christmas”, I don´t know why but the first sentence of this song I love it very much “I´m dreaming for a White Crhistmas…”, maybe because I has never been a Christmas with snow in my childhood. Nowadays, all my Christmas are white because I´m living in mountains…and I think, this is a dream became true.

    Happy Christmas and Happy New Year from Spain!

  25. Hoang Bui says:

    Hi Lucy:

    I would love to have carolers knock on my door. Too bad that beautiful tradition is dying away.
    Your explanation is so clear as always. I adore your writing style.

    Hi Jeff:

    I could feel you’re a religious person, and that’s why you’re so pure in the way you express your thoughts and opinions.

    May God bless you both and your family a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year!


  26. Peter says:

    “Jeff” a religious person ,I highly doubt it!

    He never sruck me as a religious person. That is why he sounds very upstanding.If he was religious, he would be …

    He sounds more Agnostic than religious .I am not saying he is not a spritiual person.from the looks of things,,he is more in to science than religions. .Definitly ,he is a man of fait!

    If you don’t believe me, ask Jeff ,or Lucy

    religious , no frigging way

  27. Peter says:


    I am so sorry for your loss. You have my thoughts with you!
    Way to be strong!

  28. Peter says:

    What a day, I am so frustraited

    Today,every body was outside having fun, where as,I was cooped up inside schlepping lots of junk down to basement for my dad.

    Indeed,I live a unique a misery theme

    hope ,you spent a better holiday Monday,

  29. Peter says:

    Dear Jeff,
    if you don’t mind ,Now we are in Christmas time,I wanna ask you to explain the proverb:
    Christmass comes but once a year.

    I believe it is the best time to bring up such a question. Talk about perfect timing

    if you kindly answer this very question post-haste ,it would be the best time to answer it.I mean ,talk about meant to be

    my timing couldn’t be better ,I guess(LoL)

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