It Came Upon The Midnight Clear: Mastering Christmas Carols on the Piano and Keyboard


See the complete series of Mastering Christmas Carols.

It Came Upon The Midnight Clear: An Introduction

It Came Upon The Midnight Clear is written and played here in the key of F Major, and has a 4/4 time signature.

It Came Upon The Midnight Clear: Main Melody

Take a moment to look at the various rhythmic variations of the melody. Some times (as in bar 2, 3 and 7) the tune keeps to straight quarter notes (crotchets) for the majority of the bar. At other times (such as in bar 6 and 11) there is a dotted quarter note followed by an eighth note (quaver). You’ll want to ensure you play these in the correct places — it’s not disastrous to get the rhythm wrong here as the notes will still fit but it won’t be as is often heard on recordings.

Fingering is fairly straightforward. Note bar 4 where you bunch up a little to drop from the 5th finger to thumb, to allow you to play the following run of notes more easily. Also bar 12 into 13 where you put index finger over thumb from the D to the C, before changing to the thumb to play C again. It’s an octave jump between middle C and the C above in bars 13 to 14.

Here’s the complete melody written out:

It Came Upon The Midnight Clear melody page 1

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And here’s what it sounds like:

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It Came Upon The Midnight Clear: Single Note Bass Line

Below is a simple bass line for the carol using just one note at a time.

It features fairly easy runs of notes although watch out for some of the larger interval jumps such as in bar 4, 8, 9 into 10, and 16. Also, take note that bars 10 and 12 have accidentals for the harmony. There’s a B natural followed by a C sharp in bar 10 and a B natural in bar 12.

It Came Upon The Midnight Clear bass line page 1

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And here’s what it sounds like:

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It Came Upon The Midnight Clear: Adding Harmony And Fullness With Chords

In the third version of It Came Upon The Midnight Clear, I’ve added primarily three-note chords to the right hand plus doubled the bass notes with octaves (with an occasional exception.)

Most of the chords change only a small amount in position and shape, making it easier to play them. They also follow the rhythm of the melody fairly closely, although tend not to change on any note shorter than a quarter note.

At certain points, such as in bar 3, there is a half-note (minim) two note chord (A and C) held while you play the upper F and then G and A eighth notes for the melody. This may be difficult to physically hold, but if you play using the sustain pedal you can make it easier.

Note the accidentals in chords in bars 10 and 12.

If everything feels a bit heavy, you can remove one of the bass notes for each change. It’s also worth noting that you can omit playing the melody line and simply play the underlying chords if you are accompanying singers and don’t want to play the tune.

It Came Upon The Midnight Clear chords page 1

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And here’s what is sounds like:

Download MP3

Download MIDI

See the full range of Christmas carol lessons we’ve published.