O Magnum Mysterium

This Christmas we count down the days with an advent calendar of the 25 best Christmas carols ever written, as voted for by 50 top choral experts from the across the UK and US.

13 December: O Magnum Mysterium

Words: Traditional


Music: Francis Poulenc

Of Poulenc’s four Christmas motets, the first is the most solemn, the most haunting and has consistently proved the most popular since they were published in 1952. Poulenc’s lapsed faith was famously re-ignited following the death of his friend Pierre-Octave Ferroud in 1936 – with its evocative twists and turns of dark harmony, few works can match the troubling O Magnum Mysterium in displaying the sheer depth of a composer’s belief.

December 7: No Small Wonder

December 8: The Little Road to Bethlehem

December 9: Hodie Christus natus est

December 10: There is a Flower

❄ December 11: O Magnum Mysterium


December 12: Hark the Herald Angels Sing