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Silent Night (C Major): Mastering Christmas Carols on the Piano and Keyboard

November 27, 2006 by  

Check out our complete series on mastering Christmas Carols on Piano and Keyboard.

Click on any of the music scores to view/print higher resolution versions

View a range of Christmas Carols Music Books at Amazon.

Silent Night: An Introduction

Silent Night is written and played here in the key of C Major, and has a 3/4 (waltz) time signature (as does Away in a Manger).

(See Silent Night in A Major for exactly the same tutorial in a lower key.)

Silent Night: Main Melody

Several short phrases in each verse are repeated.

The first phrase, to which the words “Silent Night” are sung, is repeated twice. The third and fourth lines have the same 4-bar melody.

Here’s the complete melody written out:

Silent Night melody line score

Those notes are: G A G : E : G A G : E : D D : B : C C : G : A A : C B A : G A G : E : A A : C B A : G A G : E : D D : F D B : C : E : C G E : G F D : C

And here’s what it sounds like:

Listen

Note that there are a number of places with a similar rhythm, formed by a dotted crotchet (quarter note) followed by a quaver (eighth note) and a crochet (quarter note). These take up one bar’s worth of time. Imagine that the bar is split into 6 half-beats. The first note (dotted crochet/quarter-note) takes 3 of these; the second note (quaver/eighth note) takes just 1 of these; the final crochet (quarter note) takes the remaining 2 half-beats.

Fingering

Here are some suggestions:

  • Start on the 4th finger and play naturally.
  • On the D in the fifth bar, start on your 5th (little) finger and run naturally
  • Play the A of the 9th bar with your 3rd (middle) finger, the notes should then run naturally. This phrase repeats.
  • Play the D of the 17th bar with your 3rd (middle) finger.
  • You have time to move your whole hand between bar 20 and 21, to play the C with your 5th (little) finger.

Silent Night: Single Note Bass Line

Below is a simple bass line for the carol using just one note. It’s written so that you only have to play one note per bar, and in fact there are only three different notes used: C, F and G.

Silent Night bass line score

And here’s what it sounds like:

Listen

Silent Night: Adding Harmony And Fullness With Chords

In the third version of Silent Night, I’ve added two-note chords to the right hand, always with the melody note as the highest note. The bass line remains the same.

Silent Night basic chords score

And here’s what is sounds like:

Continued below...

Listen

Silent Night: Alternative Versions

The final two versions of Silent Night use some alternative left-hand chord structures to give the piece a different feel. They may prove off-putting if you are accompanying singers (depending on the situation) but if you are playing the carol on its own for enjoyment or performance, you may find one or both are interesting alternatives. See how you like them!

Silent Night Arrangement with Alternative Chords first version

Here’s how it sounds:

Listen

And here’s the second version:

Silent Night Arrangement with Alternative Chords second version

Listen

Silent Night: Lead/Chord Sheet

Finally, here’s a very simple lead sheet for Silent Night. Notice that you only need three chords to play it: C major, F major, and G major:

Silent Night Lead Sheet

Silent Night: Video Tutorials

Want more ideas and inspiration for playing simple versions of Silent Night? Check out our video:

Silent Night: Lyrics

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

That’s it for now. Happy playing!


View a range of Christmas Carols Music Books at Amazon.

Series Index: Mastering Christmas Carols on the Piano and Keyboard

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Comments

54 Responses to “Silent Night (C Major): Mastering Christmas Carols on the Piano and Keyboard”

  1. dude dudette on December 21st, 2006 10:22 pm

    dis is rubbish, no offence yh but u cudve put da notes as in c’s n d’s n alla dat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    peace out!

  2. Major on December 10th, 2007 5:58 pm

    Are you talking about your grades in English class or something?

  3. Andy on December 11th, 2007 12:36 pm

    Ok, as you can see, “dude” told me that this page was “rubbish”, so I added the names of the notes as you’d see them on the keyboard.

    Unless you’re trying to be humorous, Please *read* the whole sentence and you’ll see what it refers to.

  4. piano4321luver on December 15th, 2007 12:56 pm

    I tried this on my keyboard and it didnt sound as good as it did on my piano wat am i doin wrong cuz itz hard as heck.

  5. piano4321luver on December 15th, 2007 12:59 pm

    Its very hard to play ona keyboard this song cuz idk y. wats happenin to me y cant i play yall? FTW GTH

  6. sweetfrucker on December 15th, 2007 1:00 pm

    dude this website sux

  7. Andy on December 15th, 2007 8:22 pm

    Hey “piano4321luver” and “sweetfrucker”. I know you’re the same “person”.

    If you genuinely want some help with playing the carol or getting it to sound good, then please ask and don’t hurl insults around.

    Thanks.

  8. Baller on December 25th, 2007 12:43 am

    this is crap give us the keys

  9. Jacki the mann on December 26th, 2007 6:37 pm

    This is the quickest thing i learnd on my keyboard and really enjoyed learning it!!!!

    he he he

  10. Jacki the mann on December 26th, 2007 6:41 pm

    And all the dudes who think its crap obv cant play the piano propperly !!!!!

    so keep your insults to your self thanks i like this website the shut up lol anywayz thanks !! again

  11. Jacki the mann on December 26th, 2007 6:43 pm

    I know you can see me email adress is it possible for you to post some carols to my email ready to print i would be most gratefull thanks !!

  12. jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj on December 30th, 2007 4:08 pm

    i know hot to play it firstly it is (G,A,G G,A,G A,F,G THATS ALL I NO LOL

  13. jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj on December 30th, 2007 4:08 pm

    i know hot to play it firstly it is (G,A,G G,A,G A,F,G THATS ALL I NO LOL…..

  14. ilovejesus on April 12th, 2008 4:27 am

    Those notes are: C G E : G F D : C

    THATS WRONG

    its

    C G E : G E D : C

  15. Andy on May 12th, 2008 3:36 pm

    Hi ILJ,

    I think possibly the ending can be sung in at least two ways, which is why you claim the notes are wrong.

    As per the printed score above, this is how I’ve always sung the carol. It may vary slightly for others. I’ve sung your version and I can see how it might work that way, too.

  16. christopher geraint keay on October 14th, 2008 5:32 pm

    the song was good but the ending where bad it not the tune i know of the song becuase the ending was really bad so please do something about it becuase the tune on my keyboard wasn’t much good ass the song i know it well but out off 10 i would give it 5/10 thenks
    ps christopher keay

  17. Klemperer on November 8th, 2008 11:44 am

    just found this – thanks much :)! Christmas is coming nearer again, and I’m so used to improvising at the piano now that going back to some tricks to accompany melodies is just what I was searching for. Really much appreciated, what you do, especially with music that is in some way connected to – sssssnow :P. And taken what a bunch of, err, comments you get here. Great work! Will right now play this.

  18. Andy on November 8th, 2008 2:22 pm

    Hi,

    Thanks for your comments. I am hoping to add a few more carols though I may have left it a little late to catch Christmas this year.

  19. puchi on November 14th, 2008 8:23 pm

    i dont kno wuts everyone talkin about the cords are rite i did it now STOP BEING A AZZ AND PLAY THE SONG RITE

    thank you andy

  20. Andy on November 18th, 2008 10:47 am

    Hi Puchi,

    Glad you liked it. The page has been updated now so you can all hear what the song should sound like (or at least, what I think the song should sound like). The printed music fits the audio – if you know a different version then you’ll have to adapt it.

  21. DeJet on November 24th, 2008 8:26 pm

    You missed an A there are suppossed to be two of them after the GAG E

  22. Andy on November 25th, 2008 8:42 am

    Good catch, DeJet, thanks :)

  23. isis on December 7th, 2008 7:46 am

    this website sucks,it doesnt help anybody with pianoing and plus,keyboards dont have any stupid letters on them,so think about that
    before you do something stupid!

  24. jessie on December 10th, 2008 6:37 pm

    heyy

    i luvv this :D
    was soo much fun learning .
    you got any other xmas carols im in
    a festive mood :P
    email me bk xx
    ily <3

  25. Kitty on December 15th, 2008 8:05 pm

    Thanks tis is good and all but…

    I can’t do the ending please help/

  26. Cal on December 22nd, 2008 10:57 pm

    this site made it easy to learn. you’re pretty stupid if you couldnt get it. you don’t even need to know how to read notes

  27. Andy on March 23rd, 2009 9:47 am

    @isis

    “keyboards dont have any stupid letters on them,so think about that
    before you do something stupid!”

    No, but when you begin learning to play the piano, it’s common to assign note names (the first seven letters of the alphabet) to the different white keys, which then repeat over the entire range of the keyboard.

    How else (except via the manuscript, which other people said they didn’t like) can you easily identify which note to play?

  28. jazzy on July 15th, 2009 3:36 am

    dis really works.and since i already know how to play piano,it is very easy!

  29. christmaswayniac on November 14th, 2009 3:21 pm

    Thank you for helping me to get this song down. I am now going to be able to go around on my casio with my sons cub scout pack for caroling this year. You made it quite easy to learn. I don’t care what anyone else says, I say thank you dude.

  30. Andy on November 14th, 2009 3:33 pm

    Glad it was of help!

  31. ClynnD on November 14th, 2009 11:11 pm

    IM totally confused. But i like this website.. Can u help me? I can’t find music chords 4 anyother songs than thiss that you dont have to a)Download or b)buy

  32. Andy on November 16th, 2009 12:50 pm

    Hi,

    Sorry if the article is confusing. What other songs are you looking for? I’ve only done a handful at present, which you can find on this Christmas Carol introduction post.

    I’m planning on adding more songs (both Christmas and other) over the coming weeks.

  33. lisa on November 18th, 2009 6:47 pm

    dear isis you are the one that is stupid! children learning the keyboard or piano will be starting off on a keyboard that has the letters printed on them, also on some more advanced keyboards the letters are at the lower end. i had to put this because you sounded so pompus and arrogant i just had to put you right. you need to remember the type of people the website is aimed for “beginners”. plus i think this website is great as we have been looking for some free sheets with letters for my son to practice other than the ones he is bringing home from school. looking forward to seeing more.

  34. sh on November 21st, 2009 9:10 am

    Thanks very much for this article! :) I really appreciate that you took the time and effort to put this together, and I hope you don’t let the negative comments get you down.

    My piano instructor just introduced us to improvising to simple melodies last week (using this exact song! :) ), but I’ve been finding it hard to wrap my head around the whole idea of identifying chords, much less improvising them. So this was just perfect for someone like me, and I thought the explanation was really helpful and clear.

    tx!
    sh

  35. Petar on November 30th, 2009 8:40 pm

    Very nice, like your way of simpleing the bass :D

  36. chickadee on December 15th, 2009 9:28 am

    this is the best cite i have found all afterrnoon and i would love to hear and learn how to play more so please email me thanx :) :) :) :)

  37. anananana on December 16th, 2009 7:58 am

    THIS SITE IS CRAP. GOD ITS SO BAD THEY DONT HAVE A SIMPLE SHEET OF MUSIC I CAN EASILY READ. DONT GO ON THIS SITE

  38. daughterofjubal on December 19th, 2009 7:44 pm

    This is good and very simple. As a reply to the negative comments, it’s a shame that you are unable to learn the notes for themselves. This is a ninteenth century hymn, not the Jonas Brothers or Green Day. You cannot simply memorize three chords and be able to play the ‘music’. There is melody involved.

    One thing would like to see is transpositions. C is a difficult key for the female voice; A would be better.

  39. laura conneely on December 20th, 2009 6:56 pm

    this song doesn’t even sound write why is it so hard for you to give what i asked you website is so screwed up get it fixed quick you retart!

  40. Andy on December 21st, 2009 11:44 am

    LOL Laura you’re such a troll, and a low quality one at that.

    At least some trolls have a basic grasp of the English language.

    I assume your message should read:

    “This song doesn’t even sound right. Why is it so hard for you to give me what I asked you? Your website is so screwed up. Get it fixed quick you retard!”

    Is that what you meant, Laura Conneely?

    In that case, please tell me what it is you want to know, and I’ll help you. If, however, you’re just a troll, we’ll leave it here.

  41. Megan McLaughlin on December 22nd, 2009 10:40 am

    Hi Andy,
    I just wanted to congratulate you for your efforts.
    I have read some of the nice and not so nice comments previously posted, so I wanted to give you some encouragement.
    I am a conservatorium-trained pianist and have taught for many years.
    Whilst prowling for another copy of a Schubert Impromptu, I stumbled across your website.
    Good on you for supporting the many aspiring musicians out there.
    :)

  42. Andy on December 22nd, 2009 9:56 pm

    Hi Megan,

    Thanks for your comments, it’s appreciated.

    I’m hoping to do more of these in 2010, not just for Christmas carols. I know that they’ve been helping a number of people, despite the comments. Your encouragement helps :)

    Andy

  43. Monsterific on March 12th, 2010 9:50 pm

    Hi,
    I was wondering who played the song on the piano!
    It was great!
    I play the piano and I love to write new songs!
    I stopped taking piano classes about 2 years ago, but I have my books and always want to play!
    I’m glad you don’t have a site where you have to download or buy everything!
    I like getting together with my family on Christmas and I wish Christmas carolers came to my street, but they never do!
    I want to learn more songs on the piano and the recorder, but I never can find anything!
    Thanks,
    Monster girl

  44. Andy on March 14th, 2010 5:49 pm

    Hi Monster Girl,

    I played the piece, but I used a sequencer to ensure that it was even, for the purpose of making it easier to learn from the audio. I wouldn’t normally play it quite so uniformly live.

  45. keyboard on April 18th, 2010 8:20 pm

    Only the tabs could me help but for me is that enough ;)
    Thank You Andy
    the forum is very old

  46. Elise on May 9th, 2010 4:59 pm

    yay i finally done it i have mastered silent night and im so proud of myself my friends are gunna be well impressed

  47. Eilís on November 30th, 2010 11:20 pm

    This is really good i love the way you leave note in solfa as i play concertina:D :) :P

  48. ebony on December 2nd, 2010 9:31 pm

    i thought this was VERY useful :) and so eaqsy to play on the keybored

  49. naomi on December 9th, 2010 10:48 pm

    i am lerning how to play so far all i can remember is merry had a little lamb and in the jungle but i finde after a while you dont need the sheet music ennymore somtimes my fingers played the note and i diddent even know it lol

  50. Chloe on December 15th, 2010 7:50 pm

    Jingle bell song for beginners by number is
    333-333-35123-4444433332232-333-333-35123-4444443355421,
    That is part of jingle bells for part two go to http://www.kids pianos.com
    Have fun :-)

  51. Jennny on March 16th, 2011 7:10 pm

    Isnt the more notes?

  52. Andy on March 17th, 2011 10:30 pm

    I don’t think there are more notes in the traditional version of Silent Night.

  53. SingEagle on October 19th, 2012 11:00 pm

    OMG, I was looking for something like this for days. THANK YOU!!

  54. Madi on November 26th, 2012 7:57 pm

    Brilliant help!!!!!!!!
    As i am performing for my school as the pianist for xmas carol day, this website was very useful,
    Thankyouuuuuu

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