Friday, December 25, 2009

Ah, ah, beautiful is the mother; ah, ah, beautiful is her Son.

My Dad was unabashed in his love for music, especially Christmas music. Whether or not I would have become musically inclined without his influence, we'll never know. All I can say is that the guitar my Mom bought for me languished until 2 things happened: I was first taught music (the recorder) by my Dad, and I listened to early '60s rock'n'roll.

He told me when I was pretty young that his favorite Christmas Carol was a song I had never heard of:
"Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella" (French: 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[citation needed].

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 go to milk their cows in a stable in Bethlehem, only to find the baby Jesus sleeping in the manger. The two girls run to town to tell the village of the coming of Christ, and the townspeople come with their own torches to view the sight for themselves. However, they have to keep their voices down so little Jesus can 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.

I scoured Teh YouTubes™ for a version I thought would please my pop. Many wouldn't have, from well-intended Middle School choirs, to Mormon Tabernacle Choir/Renee Fleming operatic bombast.

This one, while a modern recording, seems the best. Just lovely vocals with balance between male & female singers, and the correct dance tempo:

3 comments:

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