Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella
"Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella" (French: Un flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle) is a Christmas carol which originated from the Provence region of France in the 17th century. The song is usually notated in 3/8 time.
The carol was first published in France, and was subsequently translated into English in the 18th century. The song was originally not meant to be sung at Christmas; it was considered dance music for French nobility.
The carol first appeared in print with the Provençal text Venès lèu, Vèire la piéucello; Venès lèu, Genti pastourèu! in 1668 in a collection of twelve Provençal noëls by Nicolas Saboly. The popularity of the melody is attested by the fact that it was used four years later by Marc-Antoine Charpentier for the drinking song Qu'ils sont beaux, bouteille jolie in a 1672 revival of Molière's Le médecin malgré lui.
Jeannette and Isabelle/Isabella in the song title are two female farmhands who have found the baby and his mother in a stable. Excited by this discovery, they run to a nearby village to tell the inhabitants, who rush to see the new arrivals. Visitors to the stable are urged to keep their voices quiet, so the newborn can enjoy his dreams.
To this day, on Christmas Eve in the Provence region, children dressed as shepherds and milkmaids carry torches and candles while singing the carol, on their way to Midnight Mass.
- (*) The word Hark! or Hush is sometimes substituted for Ah!
- (*) "How he is white" is a more accurate translation of the French, "Comme il est blanc!"
- Alternative Lyrics:
- Bring a torch, Jeannette, 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!
- 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!
- Softly to the little stable,
- Softly for the moment come;
- Look and see how charming is Jesus,
- See how He smiles, Oh see how rosy!
- Hush! hush! see how the Child is sleeping;
- Hush! hush! see how He smiles in dreams.
- Morgan, Robert J. (2003-11-30). "Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabelle". A Pocket Paper. The Donelson Fellowship. Archived from the original on 2004-01-24. Retrieved 2006-07-13.
- Micoulau Saboly; François Marie César Seguin (1856). Recueil des noëls composés en langue provençale. Fr. Seguin. p. 17.
- Micoulau Saboly; François Marie César Seguin (1856). Recueil des noëls composés en langue provençale. Fr. Seguin. pp. xxxix.
- Centre de musique baroque de Versailles (2005). Marc-Antoine Charpentier: un musicien retrouvé. Editions Mardaga. p. 124. ISBN 978-2-87009-887-5.
- French lyrics from: Giunco, Marco. "Jeanette, Isabelle - Traditional". Fast Folk Musical Magazine - October '86 - Season'S Greetings. marcogiunco.com. Archived from the original on 2005-03-12. Retrieved 2006-07-13. apparently typed in by Marco Giunco from the lyrics sheets in the magazine given above.