The First Noel: Mastering Christmas Carols on the Piano and Keyboard


See the complete series of Mastering Christmas Carols.

The First Noel: An Introduction

The First Noel (also spelled The First Nowell) is written and played here in the key of C Major, and has a 3/4 (waltz) time signature.

The First Noel: Main Melody

It’s worth taking a moment to look at the structure of The First Noel carol, because it contains several repeating or near-repeating sections. This will help you to recall and play the piece of music more proficiently.

Bars (measures) 1 to the beginning of bar 9, comprising the first half of a verse, are repeated again in their entirety from the second half of bar 9 to the first half of bar 17. This means all fingering (shown above the notes) can be replicated for these two sections, and once you’ve learned one half of the verse, you know the complete verse.

The first run of seven notes in the chorus is also the same as the first notes of the verse, before diverging to higher notes for the remainder of the carol.

No sharps or flats to contend with here in either the key signature or accidentals. The fingering is pretty straight forward. In the verse at bars 2-4 and 10-12 you have a complete ascending C major scale, and the standard fingering can be used. The rest of the verse can be played with the hand almost in a single position, noting the slight stretch from a 5 to 3 in measures 8 and 16.

Similarly for the chorus.

Here’s the complete melody written out:

The First Noel melody page 1
The First Noel melody page 2

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And here’s what it sounds like:

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Download MIDI

The First Noel: Single Note Bass Line

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

Most measures feature a half note (minim) followed by a quarter note (crotchet) with the exception of bars 22 and 23 which comprise three quarter notes each and follow the run of the melody line at this time.

The First Noel bass line page 1
The First Noel bass line page 2

Download PDF file

And here’s what it sounds like:

Download MP3

Download MIDI

The First Noel: Adding Harmony And Fullness With Chords

In the third version of The First Noel, I’ve added primarily three-note chords to the right hand, always with the melody note as the highest note. The bass line remains the same.

The First Noel chords page 1
The First Noel chords page 1

Download PDF file

And here’s what is sounds like:

Download MP3

Download MIDI

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