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Global Comment Advent Calendar 4: “Mary’s Boy Child/Oh My Lord” by Boney M

Written by Story of Song

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By Kate Lillie
Originally posted on Global Comment

Behind today’s advent calendar door lies surely the happiest and most uplifting of all Christmas songs… that’s right, it’s Boney M’s Mary’s Boy Child/Oh My Lord. Not only is it seemingly impossible for anything with a calypso rhythm to be depressing, you get two songs for the price of one and a whole heap of disco loveliness thrown in for good measure! If any song could encapsulate how joyful Scrooge must have felt waking up on Christmas morning a changed man, this must surely be it.

Released in 1978, Mary’s Boy Child/Oh My Lord is still one of the top ten best-selling UK singles of all time, and one of the few in that list I actually like, as well as being Boney M’s second entry in the top ten. They are in fact the only band to have two entries, which is hugely impressive. It made Christmas number one that year and stayed at number one for four happy, joy-filled weeks.

The video for this song is also a much more cheerful affair than yesterday’s advent selection, with a visual feast of 1970s fashion. What’s lacking in a coherent storyline and advanced videography is more than made up for by Liz Mitchell’s outfit in the opening scenes – it must have been stylish at the time but it would still look great today (with the exception of the extra jumper draped over the shoulders, although I did read that apparently jumper-draping is a thing now) and her hair and make-up are beautiful. Even the rather odd-looking giant white fur coats which the whole band are wearing later in the video lend a seasonal Teletubbies vibe which somehow works despite the fact they’re perched on the balcony of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow for no apparent reason.

I’m not quite clear about how the band got to Russia or indeed why – guaranteed snow, perhaps, or just a reason to wear those long fur coats? – but there is something about St. Basil’s Cathedral that looks vaguely Christmassy to me. I’m not sure whether it’s the candy cane colours or the fact I usually see photos of it covered in snow but it’s certainly a perfect winter postcard option. The opening scenes of the video, set in a Blue Peter-style Christmas market, also have no context but they do contain one of the best ideas EVER – a Boney M carousel where Boney M actually sing to you as you go around on your carousel horse! I know what I’ll be asking Santa to bring me this year…

As an aside, I saw Boney M live about 18 months ago in Dubai. They were here to play a festival and I wasn’t expecting much given how much time has lapsed since their heyday but they were incredible – easily one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen. So if you get the chance to go and see them, I would highly recommend it.

Now, fill your day up with some calypso Christmas joy and don’t forget to check back for tomorrow’s selection!


Mary’s Boy Child/Oh My Lord by Boney M

Written by Story of Song

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