Guitar lesson for

O Holy Night

by Sufjan Stevens  •  Lesson #343

Video lesson

Get the sheet music(3 pages)

  • A properly licensed, print-friendly arrangement is available for individual purchase at Musicnotes.com
  • This sheet music was designed & hand-crafted by me (David Potsiadlo) with care, providing you with everything needed to both learn and play this song.
  • On the fence? Here's a video guide I made showing the purchase & print process.
Buy at Musicnotes.com

Patreon supporters: click here to get the 50% off discount code on this purchase

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:

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.

e-|---0----x----3----0----0----1---(2)--------
B-|---1----1----0----0----1----3----0----0----
G-|---0----2----0----0----2----2----2----0----
D-|---2----3----0----2----2----0----1----0----
A-|---3----3----2----2----0---------2----2----
E-|--------x----3----0------------------------
      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.

Get my lessons in your inbox!

Every couple weeks I send out an email newsletter with links to whatever new lessons I've made. Sign up here and stay in the loop!


Enjoy my lessons? Buy me a beer!

If this and my other lessons have proven helpful to you, please consider making a one-time donation to my tip jar. Contributions of any amount help make this project possible (including the many, many hours I put into it).

You can also support me on Patreon. For only $3/month you'll get access to a print-friendly PDF of my notes for each new lesson (view free sample).

Thanks!


Subscribe to my YouTube channel

Be sure to never miss a lesson by subscribing on YouTube. I put out 2-3 new videos every week. These include full song lessons, as well as covers, practice tips, behind-the-scenes updates. Thanks!


Recent video lessons:

📝 My "song" PDFs are now individually purcasheable! I've arranged a licensing agreement with Musicnotes, a service that lets you buy sheet music. Patreon suppoters get 50% off each purchase. Get the latest info here »   (last updated July 1, 2021)

October 14, 2021

How to Tune Half-Step Down (E-Flat Tuning)

Tips & Techniques  •  Lesson #394

A quick guide to tuning all your strings down 1/2 step (E-flat tuning), which is a very common alternate tuning used in many songs.

Patreon PDF

October 2, 2021

F Chord Cheat Sheet! 7 Easier Ways to Play It

Tips & Techniques  •  Lesson #392

A quick inventory of 8 different ways to play the dreaded F chord, 7 of which are easier than the dreaded six-string barred version.

Patreon PDF

September 28, 2021

Beginner Riffs with Major 7th Arpeggios

Warm-Up Exercise  •  Lesson #390

A quick exercise where I share over 10 riffs based on a single arpeggio shape, using major 7th chord tones. Backing track included!

Patreon PDF

September 19, 2021

Key of C Major Cheat Sheet!

Tips & Techniques  •  Lesson #388

A deep dive into everything you need to know when playing in the Key of C: notes, chords, fretboard map, tips & tricks, easier ways to play the F chord, and plenty more.

Patreon PDF

September 12, 2021

Major Scale Positions & CAGED Chord Shapes

Tips & Techniques  •  Lesson #384

A deep-dive into the common positions of the major scale, and how they each relate to the CAGED chord shapes... which makes it all easier to understand!

Patreon PDF

August 29, 2021

First Electric! 8 Things I Didn't Expect

Tips & Techniques  •  Lesson #386

I recently got my 1st electric guitar, and was surprised how many things immediately confused me. Here's a quick inventory, in case it helps anyone else starting out!

Patreon PDF

Browse my all lessons

By lesson type

By song decade

By musical genre

By guitar technique

By musical key

By popular artist


← back to lesson list