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Updated 12/27/2019


Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella

"Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella" originated from the Provence region of France in the 17th century. 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.





Un flambeau, Jeanette, Isabelle --
Un flambeau! Courons au berceau!
C'est Jésus, bonnes gens du hameau.
Le Christ est né; Marie appelle!
Ah! Ah! Que la Mère est belle,
Ah! Ah! Que l'Enfant est beau!

 Qui vient là, frappant de la sorte?
Qui vient là, en frappant comme ça?
Ouvrez-donc, j'ai posé sur un plat
De bons gâteaux, qu'ici j'apporte
Toc! Toc! Ouvrons-nous la porte!
Toc! Toc! Faisons grand gala!

 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! Il dort à merveille,
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! Que l'Enfant repose!
Do! Do! Qu'il rit en dormant!



Bring a torch, Jeanette, Isabella!

Bring a torch, to the stable call

Christ is born. Tell the folk of the village

Jesus is born and Mary's calling.

Ah!* Ah! beautiful is the Mother!

Ah! Ah! beautiful is her child!

Who is that, knocking on the door?

Who is it, knocking like that?

Open up, we've arranged on a platter

Lovely cakes that we have brought here

Knock! Knock! Open the door for us!

Knock! Knock! Let's celebrate!

It is wrong when the child is sleeping,

It is wrong to talk so loud.

Silence, now as you gather around,

Lest your noise should waken Jesus.

Hush! Hush! see how he slumbers;

Hush! Hush! see how fast he 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!