The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

BRING A TORCH, JEANETTE, ISABELLA

Version 1
Compare: Bring Your Torches, Jeanette, Isabella - Version 2

Words & Music: Un flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle
French Provençal carol by Émile Blémont
Translation: Edward Cuthbert Nunn (1868-1914)
British organist and composer
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer

1. Bring a torch, Jeanette, Isabella
Bring a torch, to the cradle run!
It is Jesus, good folk of the village;
Christ is born and Mary's calling;
Ah! ah! beautiful is the Mother
Ah! ah! beautiful is her Son!

2. It is wrong when the Child is sleeping
It is wrong to talk so loud;
Silence, all, as you gather around.
Lest your noise should waken Jesus.
Hush! hush! see how fast He slumbers!
Hush! hush! see how fast He sleeps!

3. Hasten now, good folk of the village;
Hasten now the Christ Child to see.
You will find Him asleep in the manger;
Quietly come and whisper softly,
Hush! hush! Peacefully now He slumbers.
Hush! hush! Peacefully now He sleeps.

4. Softly to the little stable.
Softly for a moment come;
Look and see how charming is Jesus
How He is white, His cheeks are rosy!
Hush! hush! see how the Child is sleeping;
Hush! hush! see how He smiles in his dreams.

Another First Verse:

1. Bring a torch, Jeanette, Isabella;
Bring a torch, come swiftly and run.
Christ is born, tell the folk of the village;
Jesus is sleeping in His cradle.
Ah, ah, beautiful is the Mother;
Ah, ah, beautiful is her Son.

See A Garritan Community Christmas for an MP3:
Un Flambeau Jeannette Isabelle, Mark Leneker

Editor's Note:

Instrumental sheet music to this and 12 other carols may be downloaded from Sally DeFord Music, http://www.defordmusic.com/carolsforpiano.htm (site accessed September 30, 2006). An MP3 of this arrangement is also available at that page.

Notes:

Several authors have commented that the song evocates the tradition of erecting a crèche, or even a small town containing a crèche, to honor the Christ Child. Some have also given inspiration to the creation of the song from a painting by Georges de La Tour (1593 - 1652) in the 17th Century which depicted a Nativity scene where two young girls quietly watch the Infant. No source has specified which painting this is; perhaps it is "Le Nouveau-Né" (a.k.a. "The New Born" or "The Newborn"), a copy of which may be seen at the Web Gallery of Art, The Art Renewal Center, and Olga's Gallery, who gives the date as circa 1645.

According to both William Simon and Nancy J. Skarmeas, the tune to this carol has been known since the 14th Century -- not as a sacred hymn, but as a lively dance. Both state that the carol, with words and music, first appeared in a compilation of Christmas music, Cantiques de Premiere Advenement de Jesus-Christ, published in 1553 by a wealthy French count whose hobby was the collection of Christmas music.

However, the editors of The New Oxford Book of Carols indicate that the French text by Émile Blémont first appeared in Julien Tiesot's Noëls français (1901) and was a version of the carol "Viénès leou vieira la Pieoucelle" which was published in Nicolas Saboly's Recueil de noëls provençaux (1836). As such, the frequent attribution to Nicholas Saboly (1614-1675) is probably incorrect.

Other Translations:

Sources: