O Holy Night

by Sufjan Stevens • Lesson #343 • Dec 24, 2020

Video lesson

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Editor’s notes

Hey friends! Here’s a guitar lesson for the classic Christmas song “O Holy Night”, which is probably my favorite of all holiday tunes. I’ll be basing this lesson off of the Sufjan Stevens version from 2006, and keeping things as simple as possible when it comes to chords, strumming, and fingerpicking patterns. Whether you want to do a super basic campfire (er, yule log?) version – or do something a bit more advanced with fingerpicking and incorporating the melody riff – this lesson has you covered! I hope you enjoy.

Video timestamps:

  • 0:00 Playthrough & lesson overview
  • 3:14 Chord shapes needed
  • 5:35 Chord progressions
  • 8:18 Strumming patterns
  • 10:59 Fingerpicking patterns
  • 16:05 Intro riff w/ tab

Lyrics with chords

Key of C, 6 beats per measure, 74 BPM

See my sheet music for the lyrics with chords.

Guitar chords used

Here’s the chord shapes you need. You can of course tweak any of these (to simplify, to fancily, etc) if you please. For the F, I’ll use the middle-4-string version shown below to avoid having to do the full barre chord. The G/B is an optional chord used when transitioning between Am and C.

      C    F    G    Em   Am   Dm   B7  G/B

Chord progression

See my sheet music for chord progression diagrams.

Strumming patterns

If you want to strum this song, here’s a few options. I recommend starting light & simple, and then dialing up the intensity as you move along toward the end. Accent & emphasize the 1 and 4 counts!

See my sheet music for strumming diagrams.

Fingerpicking options

You can also fingerpick this song, which I’ll do by using one (or multiple) of these patterns. I generally keep my right index/middle/ring on the 4th/3rd/2nd strings, and use my right thumb on the bass note of the chord (usually 5th or 6th string). See my video lesson for a demonstration.

See my sheet music for tab diagram.

Optional melody riff tab (for intro / first line of the verse)

Here’s a tab I came up with to play the melody of the first line or two – in combination with the chords that go with it. The yellow notes below represent the actually melody notes (i.e. what you’d hum or whistle or sing) – and you can optionally add any amount, or none, of the non-highlighted chord-notes I show below. If you do play the non-highlighted notes, don’t feel pressured to play all of them… in other words, its okay if you’re fingerpicking and only play the bass note of the chord, along with the highlighted melody note. See my video lesson for reference!

See my sheet music for tab diagram.

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Hey there! My name is David Potsiadlo, and I'm the creator of the 400+ weekly lessons here at Song Notes, going back to 2013. Here’s my guitar story »

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