"Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella
" (Un flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle) is a Christmas carol
which originated from the Provence
region of France
in the 16th century. The song is unique among Christmas carols in that it is in 3/8 time
The carol was first published in 1553 in France, and was subsequently translated into English in the 18th century. The song was originally not a song to be sung at Christmas, but rather dance music for French nobility.
The carol tells the story of two milkmaids, Jeanette and Isabella, who went to milk their cows in a manger in Bethlehem, only to find the baby Jesus sleeping in the hay. The two girls ran to town to tell the village of the coming of Christ, and the townspeople came with their own torches to view the sight for themselves. However, they had to keep their voices down so little Jesus could enjoy his dreams. To this day in the Provence region, children dress up as shepherds and milkmaids, carrying torches and candles to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, while singing the carol.
The painter Georges de La Tour painted a nativity scene based on the carol.
- Bring a torch, Jeanette, Isabella!
- Bring a torch, to Bethlehem come!
- Christ is born. Tell the folk of the village
- Mary has laid him in a manger.
- Ah!* Ah! beautiful is the Mother!
- Ah! Ah! beautiful is her child!
- It is wrong when the Baby is sleeping,
- It is wrong to speak so loud.
- Silence, now as you gather around,
- Lest your noise should waken Jesus.
- Hush! Hush! see how the Baby slumbers;
- Hush! Hush! see how the Baby sleeps!
- Softly now unto the stable,
- Softly for a moment come!
- Look and see how charming is Jesus,
- Look at him there, His cheeks are rosy!
- Hush! Hush! see how the Child is sleeping;
- Hush! Hush! see how he smiles in dreams!
- Un flambeau, Jeanette, Isabelle --
- Un flambeau! Courons au berceau!
- C'est Jésus, bons gens du hameau.
- Le Christ est né; Marie appelle!
- Ah! Ah! Ah! Que la Mère est belle,
- Ah! Ah! Ah! Que l'Enfant est beau!
- C'est un tort, quand l'Enfant sommeille,
- C'est un tort de crier si fort.
- Taisez-vous, l'un et l'autre, d'abord!
- Au moindre bruit, Jésus s'éveille.
- Chut! chut! chut! Il dort à merveille,
- Chut! chut! chut! Voyez comme il dort!
- Doucement, dans l'étable close,
- Doucement, venez un moment!
- Approchez! Que Jésus est charmant!
- Comme il est blanc! Comme il est rose!
- Do! Do! Do! Que l'Enfant repose!
- Do! Do! Do! Qu'il rit en dormant!
- (*) The word Hark! is sometimes substituted for Ah!