The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Dans cette étable

Traditional French, 19th Century

Dans cette étable,
Que Jésus est charmant!
Qu’il est aimable,
Dans son abaissement!
Que d’attraits à la foi (s)!
Tous les palais des rois
N’ont rien de comparable
Aux beautés que je vois
Dans cette étable.

Que sa puissance
Paraît bien en ce jour,
Malgré l’enfance
Où le réduit l’amour!
Le monde racheté,
Et tout l’enfer dompté,
Font voir qu’à sa naissance
Rien n’est si redouté
Que sa puissance.

Touchant mystère!
Jésus, souffrant pour nous,
D’un Dieu sévère
Apaise le courroux.
Du testament nouveau
Il est le doux agneau;
Il doit sauver la terre
Portant notre fardeau :
Touchant mytère.

S’il est sensible,
Ce n’est qu’à nos malheurs,
Le froid pénible
Ne cause point ses pleurs.
Mon cœur à tant d’attraits,
À de si doux bienfaits,
À ce charme invincible
Doit céder désormais,
S’il est sensible.

Ah! Je vous aime,
Vous vous cachez en vain,
Beauté suprême
Jésus, Enfant divin!
Vous êtes à mes yeux
Le puissant Roi des cieux,
Le Fils de Dieu lui-même
Descendu dans ces lieux :
Ah! Je vous aime.

In this stable,
How delightful Jesus is!
How lovable he is
In his abasement!
What calls to faith (OR all at the same time)!
All the palaces of kings
Have nothing comparable
To the beauties which I see
In this stable.

How well His power
Appears to-day
Despite the infancy
To which love has reduced Him.
The world redeemed,
And all hell overcome
Show that at His birth
Nothing is as feared
As His power.

Touching mystery!
Jesus, suffering for us,
Of a jealous God
Appeases the anger.
Of the New Testament
He is the gentle lamb;
He shall save the world
Bearing our burden :
Touching mystery.

If he is sensitive,
It is to our misfortunes,
The painful cold
Does not cause his tears.
My heart, to so many appeals,
To such sweet good deeds,
To this invincible delight,
Must henceforth give in,
If it is sensitive.

Oh, How I love you!
You hide yourself in vain,
Supreme beauty,
Jesus, divine child.
To my eyes you are
The powerful King of Heaven,
The Son of God Himself,
Come down unto this place :
Oh, how I love you.

This and three other carols were generously provided by Michael Johnson, who wrote:

I am attaching the texts for four additional French Christmas carols:

1. Ça, Bergers, assemblons nous
2. Dans cette étable
3. Ah! Quel grand mystère
4. En cette nuit

The texts are taken from the public domain. The first carol is generally sung to a melody which dates from at least the 16th Century and, in fact, it is reported that the tune (but not these words) was sung by the crew of Jacques Cartier`s ship La Grande Hermine anchored off Stadaconé (the Algonkian name of what became Québec City) on Christmas Day, 1535. (Québec historian, Ernest Myrand).

The other three are all 19th Century hymns, popular both in France and Québec.

The four carols as well as many of the others which you already have on the site, are on the NAXOS CD: En la Fête de Noël/O Holy Night issued in 1999 and sung by La Petite Bande de Montréal. It's really a very wonderful recording (I had nothing to do with it), but the jewel case liner, as is so often the case now, does not have the words in French or in English. Since I give the CD often as a Christmas present, it will be helpful to be able to tell people to look at your site for the words. NAXOS now has the CD on line, but still do not have the words or any translation!

I have provided translations for these four carols. They are very literal as is my habit and I have phrased them so that each line of the English translates the words in the corresponding line of the French. This makes the word order somewhat awkward at times in English, but people are forever asking me, when the translation is freer, "Yes, but what exactly does the French mean?"  By translating it this way, they can now know. Frankly, it's fairly pedestrian, but it is more poetic in French, where it rhymes.

The music for Ça, bergers and for Ah! Quel Grand Mystère is particularly lovely.

In Québec (as on the CD) the arrangements used are generally by the Québecois composer/organist Raymond Daveluy. The four-part settings, with organ accompaniment and basic registration for Swell and Positive organ with pedal notation can be obtained from Les Entreprises Culturelles, 399, rue des Conseillers, La Prairie, Québec J5R 4H6 Canada (514-659-1282) and are available from Archambault Booksellers in Montréal and Québec (where I bought them).

That collection does not have En cette nuit, but has seven carols in addition to the ones I am passing along to you:

Amour, honneur, louange
Les Anges Dan Nos Campagnes
Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant
Noel Nouvelet
Nouvelle agréable
Sainte Nuit
Le Sommeil de l'Enfant Jésus
(The Sleep of the Child Jesus)
this last being the official title of Entre le boeuf et l'âne gris.

You already have most of these on your site.

So, thanks once again for your very lovely site.

Michael Johnson

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