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Origin: Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella

Parson 02 Dec 00 - 12:46 AM
Matt_R 02 Dec 00 - 12:49 AM
Haruo 02 Dec 00 - 02:01 AM
Haruo 02 Dec 00 - 02:10 AM
Parson 02 Dec 00 - 11:51 PM
Haruo 05 Dec 00 - 06:17 PM
Parson 05 Dec 00 - 06:50 PM
Scotsbard 06 Dec 00 - 05:55 PM
Haruo 07 Dec 00 - 06:25 PM
Joe Offer 07 Dec 00 - 08:15 PM
Haruo 07 Dec 00 - 08:44 PM
Joe Offer 07 Dec 00 - 09:16 PM
Haruo 07 Dec 00 - 09:26 PM
Joe Offer 07 Dec 00 - 09:33 PM
Haruo 07 Dec 00 - 09:54 PM
Joe Offer 07 Dec 00 - 11:54 PM
Mrrzy 08 Dec 00 - 11:39 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 14 Dec 08 - 10:32 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 14 Dec 08 - 10:51 PM
Genie 14 Dec 08 - 11:41 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 15 Dec 08 - 12:57 AM
Monique 15 Dec 08 - 04:13 AM
Monique 15 Dec 08 - 06:00 AM
GUEST,leeneia 15 Dec 08 - 11:12 AM
GUEST 22 Dec 08 - 01:01 PM
GUEST 22 Dec 08 - 01:15 PM
GUEST,retired music teacher 22 Dec 08 - 09:47 PM
Genie 23 Dec 08 - 01:05 AM
GUEST,M Hecht 09 Dec 09 - 09:39 AM
Artful Codger 09 Dec 09 - 02:39 PM
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Subject: Info Request: Bring A Torch Jeanette Isa
From: Parson
Date: 02 Dec 00 - 12:46 AM

I would like some background information on the Christmas Carol/Song(???) "Bring A Torch, Jeanette Isabella." I had never heard this song until a few years ago, when I bought a CD of some Christmas music & this song was on the CD. Is there a story line that goes along with the song. Who is Jeanette Isabella, or are they 2 people? I've seen the title, "Jeanette, Isabella." Is she (they) a child of the village? Daughters of the Innkeeper? Children of the shepherds." (Sorry, I've sometimes been repremanded for taking things too literally, but that's the way my mind works.) Does anyone know who wrote it? When? Under what circumstances?

Thanks,

Randall


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Subject: RE: Info Request: Bring A Torch Jeanette Isa
From: Matt_R
Date: 02 Dec 00 - 12:49 AM

It's actually an old French Christmas carol, known as "Une Flambeau, Jeanette, Isabelle." And yes they, are 2 people...I think the innkeeper's daughters.


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Subject: RE: Info Request: Bring A Torch Jeanette Isa
From: Haruo
Date: 02 Dec 00 - 02:01 AM

I have the original French (or an original French text, since it's anonymous and traditional) on my website at, I think, this page, as well as an Esperanto version of the first verse here. The latter, like most English versions, doesn't even begin to do justice to the rhyme scheme of the French. I am urgently looking for an Esperanto version that does conserve the rhymes.

Liland


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Subject: RE: Info Request: Bring A Torch Jeanette Isa
From: Haruo
Date: 02 Dec 00 - 02:10 AM

A couple of nitpicky little points in addition to my previous post: flambeau (torch) is masculine, so Un flambeau, not Une. And at least in standard Parisian French, the second girl's name ends in "e", not "a" (the latter would be proper in much of southern France, but the carol is not in a southern dialect — not in the form I have anyway, though I have seen it referred to [in a Fireside Book maybe?] as a carol of Provence.) If anyone knows the whereabouts of a Provençal or Occitan version (not counting recent translations from the langue d'oïl) I'd love to see it!



Liland


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Subject: RE: Info Request: Bring A Torch Jeanette Isa
From: Parson
Date: 02 Dec 00 - 11:51 PM

Thanks Matt and Liland. I appreciate your help with this song. I enjoy listing to the music, but just wondered about the words. Liland, is the English version a pretty good translation of the French? I don't read French, so I couldn't do much with the web sites you gave. BTW, I have another CD that has several French & German carols. There is a trumpet solo in each one & then a choir sings. The liner notes give the texts. I tried to figure them out with French & German to English dictionaries in the library. Pretty tough stuff, but I did get a "gist" of what they are about. I really like the melody to one about the Wise Men. Another is something like, "It's Midnight, Christian!" Beautiful music, but I wish I understood the text more.

Thanks again for your help.

Randall


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Subject: Lyr Add: A TORCH, JEANNETTE, ISABELLE
From: Haruo
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 06:17 PM

Parson Randall,
If you post the titles/first-lines of the French and German carols on the CD, somebody here can probably provide some illumination on the text.

As far as how faithful to the original text the English "Bring a torch" is, my French isn't all that good either, but here's my best attempt at a very literalistic English translation of the French text from my website. If the English text you've got is similar to those I've seen, it's a pretty good adaptation to the meter of the tune, but it makes no effort to preserve the rhyme scheme, which to my ear is almost half the charm of the carol. The French, as you can see from the spellings at the ends of lines, is very carefully rhymed abbaab; actually the rhyme is better than it looks, because in French the t in plat is silent, and "(f)ort" and "(b)ord" are pronounced identically, as are the endings "-ent" and "-ant". Now, if you have an English version that does preserve this rhyme scheme, please post it so I and others may learn it and use it. The English versions I've been exposed to reduce the rhymes and eliminate the regular scheme.

A torch, Jeannette, Isabelle
A torch, let's run to the cradle
It's Jesus, good people of the hamlet
The Christ is born, Mary's calling
Ah! Ah! Ah! that the mother's beautiful!
Ah! Ah! Ah! that the child is beautiful!

Who comes there knocking in that manner
Who comes there knocking like that
Open up, I've put on a dish
Some good cakes which I've brought here.
Knock! Knock! Knock! open the door to us,
Knock! Knock! Knock! Let's have a big party!

It is wrong when the child is napping
It is wrong to shout so loud
Shush, the two of you above all,
Lest the noise wake Jesus
Hush! hush! hush! he sleeps wondrously!
Hush! hush! hush! see how he sleeps!

Softly into the enclosed stable
Softly come a moment
Come near! How cute Jesus is!
How fair he is, how like a rose!
Do! do! do! that the child rests!
Do! do! do! that he laughs in his sleep!

I'm not sure what the interjection "do" means (I know it in French only as a musical note name, which it clearly is not in this context). And of course the "thats" in the last two lines of the first and last stanzas should be, in idiomatic English "hows" or "look at hows", I suppose. But that'll give you a fair basis on which to judge the fidelity of your translation.

Liland


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Subject: Lyr Add: BRING A TORCH, JEANNETTE, ISABELLA
From: Parson
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 06:50 PM

Hi Liland,

My version does have the rhyming any better than yours and I only have 3 verses, though they are very similar to 3 of yours.

I have:

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 the Son!

It is wrong when the child is sleeping,
It is wrong to talk so loud;
Silence, all, as you gather around Him,
Lest your noise shall Jesus; (?) (*)
Hush! Hush! See how fast He slumbers,
Hush! Hush! See how fast he sleeps!

Softly to the little stable,
Softly for a moment to 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 and dreams.

(*) I don't get it either, but that's what it says. Probably should be, "Lest your noise shall wake Jesus" or "Lest your noise wake Jesus."


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Subject: RE: Info Request: Bring A Torch Jeanette Isa
From: Scotsbard
Date: 06 Dec 00 - 05:55 PM

There is a french version version in the Trapp Family Christmas Song Book:

Un flambeau Jeanette, Isabella, etc ...

I've not the words with me at the moment, but it scans beautifully in the original langauge.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Info Request: Bring A Torch Jeanette Isa
From: Haruo
Date: 07 Dec 00 - 06:25 PM

Once again, here's the link to the French text, Un flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle, from my hymnal. Yes, it scans beautifully. The problem is coming up with an English (or Esperanto) version that is as good.

Liland


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Subject: RE: Info Request: Bring A Torch Jeanette Isa
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Dec 00 - 08:15 PM

Here's the commentary from the Shorter New Oxford Book of Carols:
Torches have always played an important part in Provençal Christmas celebrations. Another tradition is the making of model villages, complete with crib and vividly characterized villagers. Both are reflected in this carol. The French text by Émile Blémont first appeared in 1901, and is a version of the Provençal carol 'Venes leou vieira la Pieoucelle." The tune derives from the dringking song 'Qu'ils sont doux,bouteille jolie,' which Charpentier wrote for later performances of Moliere's "Le Medecin malgre lui" (1666).
The Oxford book has the same French text shown on Liland's site, but has only Liland's verses 1, 3, and 4. So, Liland, I guess it's legit to credit the French lyrics to Émile Blémont, 1901; Music: Marc-Antoine Charpentier, 1666.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Info Request: Bring A Torch Jeanette Isa
From: Haruo
Date: 07 Dec 00 - 08:44 PM

Thanks, Joe. Interesting. I've never seen the Shorter New OBC, that I recall anyway. Does it have the Provençal text in it? If not, any idea where to find it?

Liland


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Subject: RE: Info Request: Bring A Torch Jeanette Isa
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Dec 00 - 09:16 PM

Hi, Liland - I bought the paperback "shorter" New Oxford Book of Carols a while back, when the full version was only available in hardcover for well over a hundred bucks. There's now a paperback edition of the full book - it's available at Barnes & Noble (click) for $23.96, or you can get the shorter one for $16.95. Sorry, can't find the Provençal lyrics anywhere.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Info Request: Bring A Torch Jeanette Isa
From: Haruo
Date: 07 Dec 00 - 09:26 PM

There's now a paperback edition of the full book - it's available at Barnes & Noble (click) for $23.96,
Good to know!
Sorry, can't find the Provençal lyrics.
Too bad. Google turns up nada, just one site with the title but no text. Think I'll post about it in soc.culture.esperanto, there are some Occitan types there.

Liland

Fait accompli.


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Subject: RE: Info Request: Bring A Torch Jeanette Isa
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Dec 00 - 09:33 PM

Good luck, Liland- I even tried a number of francophone search engines.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Info Request: Bring A Torch Jeanette Isa
From: Haruo
Date: 07 Dec 00 - 09:54 PM

Well, I posted this to soc.culture.occitan

Tristement, je ne sais pas l'occitan, mais j'ai besoin de la texte de "Venes leou vieira la Pieoucelle". --Liland Brajant Ros'

and this to soc.culture.esperanto

"Venes leou vieira la Pieoucelle" estas, sxajne, la provenca/okcitana teksto, kiun oni francigis kiel "Un flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle", kaj poste angligis kiel "Bring a torch [aux Torches here], Jeannette, Isabella". Se iu sceano povas liveri tiun tekston (la originalon) tio impone propagandos por Esperanto en la popolkantista rondo "Mudcat Café" (http://mudcat.org).

Liland

PS La saman melodion oni uzas ankaux por la Zambankanzono "Portu lumon, ho Ludovikego".

and we'll see if anything come of it.


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Subject: Info: Bring A Torch Jeanette Isabella
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Dec 00 - 11:54 PM

Oh, my handy-dandy scanner spat out this.
-Joe Offer-
Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella

"Who were Jeannette and Isabella?" may not rank high among the literary mysteries of the world, yet the identities of these two famous unknown women do provide an intriguing puzzle for the lighthearted speculator. Were they sisters, daughters, wives, or lovers? Or were they simply names that the poet chose because of sound and/or rhythm?
Although the mystery of these carol characters will never be solved, there is nothing secret about the very high quality of this delightful seventeenth-century folk carol from the Provence region of France. Originally "Un flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle," it has been honored by a number of English versions, of which "Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella" by Englishman Edward Cuthbert Nunn (1868-1914) is the most popular.
The mysteries associated with the carol do not end with Jeannette and Isabella. There is some cause to believe that the author of the song was Nicholas Saboly (1614-1675), who also may have been the creator of another carol, "Touro-louro-luoro!," which was from the same place and period. In any case, the imaginative lyrics depicting the utilization of torches to light the way to the manger scene and the sprightly and rhythmic melody are a singularly compelling combination. "Bring a Torch" is one of those songs in the category which could be designated as "great lesser-known carols." That is, its esthetics surpass its international appreciation and recognition.

The Christmas Carol Reader, William Studwell; 1995, Harrington Park Press

Another source says, "Hanukkah, the Jewish 'Festival of Lights,' has strongly influenced the celebration of Christmas in Provence and other southern European regions.
A Book of Christmas Carols, Haig & Regina Shekerjian.


Parson has the Nunn translation posted in the message above. The line he questions should be:
Lest your noise should waken Jesus.

Say, Parson, I'd be glad to help with the German carols. If you have a bunch, maybe you could lump them together in one thread and maybe call it "German Christmas Carols." I sometimes think we get carried away and start too many threads and deaden the discussion by watering it down too much.


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Subject: RE: Info Request: Bring A Torch Jeanette Isa
From: Mrrzy
Date: 08 Dec 00 - 11:39 AM

I alwaysthought it was first and middle name of one person but I've never seen it written down, that is just how I learned it. I always thought Jeanette Isabelle was a very pretty name for a little French girl.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Dec 08 - 10:32 PM

Lyr. Add: BRING A TORCH, JEANETTE, ISABELLA

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! (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 sleeps!
3
Hasten now, good folk of the *villafe ;
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 sleeps.
4
Softly to the little stable.
Softly, in 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.

*villafe usually given as village; villafe is Fr. for holy town (obsolete). The above is one of several versions in English.

Torch

Lyr. Add: UN FLAMBEAU, JEANETTE, ISABELLE

1
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!
2
Qui vient là frappant de la sorte
Qui vient là frappant comme ça.
Ouvrez donc j'ai posé sur un plat
De bons gâteaux qu'ici j'apporte.
Toc! Toc! Quvrez-nous la porte
Toc! Toc! Faisons grand gala.
3
C'est un fort 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!
4
Doucement dans l'étable close,
Doucement venez un moment!
Approachez! Que Jésus est charmant,
Comme Il est blanc, comme Il est rose
Do! Do! Que l'Enfant repose!
Do! Do! Do! Qu'il rit en dormant!

The French lyrics for verse 2 from Cyberhymnal. *Midi at Cyberhymnal.
Un Flambeau
Verses 1, 3, 4, are verses 1-3 of John Rutter arrangement, at-
Carols


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Dec 08 - 10:51 PM

Wikipedia says that this song was not originally meant to be sung at Christmas, but was dance music for French nobility. The carol was first published in France in 1553, and came into English in the 18th c.
The song tells the story of two milkmaids who went to milk their cows in a manger in Bethlehem, only to discover the baby Jesus sleeping in the hay. The two girls ran to the village and the townspeople came with torches to see for themselves.
"To this day, in the Provence region, children dress up as shepherds and milkmaids, carrying torches to midnight mass on Christmas Eve, singing the carol."

I have not found a French site with the story.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella
From: Genie
Date: 14 Dec 08 - 11:41 PM

I too have read - in more than one place, I believe, but it's been years - that Jeannette and Isabelle (yes, Isabelle, not Isabella) were the daughters of the man who wrote the song. The song history that I read said that villagers used to have live "manger scenes" in the town square, and that the father was calling his daughters to come see the real-life baby in this tableau, with his mother (and, no doubt, a cow, sheep, real-life "Joseph," etc.).

If this account is true, then it makes perfect sense that the baby is "so white" with "rosy" cheeks, because it would have been European (French) actors in the tableau.

But Wikipedia -- that ever reliable, never changing source ; D - currently has a different story.   What Joe posted sounds right: we may never know the history of this song for sure, any more than we know the history of "Greensleeves.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 12:57 AM

Yes, that Wikipedia article reads like a 'just so' story. I tried to find a French site (if not Provence) to get more information, but no luck so far.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella
From: Monique
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 04:13 AM

You can download the whole Google book of Nicolas Saboly's Christmas carols here
"Venès lèu vèire la piéucello" is #12
You just let me a moment to type and translate it


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella
From: Monique
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 06:00 AM

VENÈS LÈU VÈIRE LA PIÉUCELLO

Venès lèu vèire la piéucello;
Venès lèu genti pastourèu
Soun enfant es pus blanc que la nèu
E trelusis coume uno estello
Ai! ai! ai! que la maire es bello
Ai! Ai! que l'enfant es bèu.

Hòu! Cristòu,
La nuech es fort claro,
Hòu! Cristòu,
Sauto vite au sòu,
E vai-t'en au païs dei Jusiòu,
Vèire Jèsu, qu'es causa raro.
Hòu! hòu! hòu!, me lève toutaro
Hòu! hòu! toutaro li vòu

Qu's aqui
Que bat de la sorto?
Qu's aqui ?
Sian vòsteis ami
Que pourten un parèu de cabrit:
Dison qu'es bon ami qu porto.
Ta! ta! ta!, druvès-nous la porto
Ta! ta! Venès nous druvi!

Avès tort,
Vous e vòstei fiho
Avès tort,
De pica tan fort;
Vàutrei, pastre, sias tous de butor,
Poudès jamai teni sesiho
Chut! chut! chut! que l'enfant soumiho,
Chut! chut! que lou petit dor.

Gros badau,
N'aurès jamai pauso!
Gros badau,
Teisas-vous un pau!
Parlas plan, e marchas tan pu siau
Coume fa uno cacalauso.
Plan! plan! plan! que l'enfant repauso;
Plan! plan! leissas-l'en repau


Literal translation


Quickly come to see the virgin
Quickly come nice shepherds
Her child is whiter than the snow
And shines like a star
Ah! ah! ah! how beautiful the mother is!
Ah! ah! how beautiful the child is!

Hey! Christopher
The night is very clear
Hey! Christopher,
Quickly get up (lit. jump on the floor)
And go to the Jews' country
To see Jesus, for it's a rare thing.
Hey! Hey! Hey! I'm getting up at once
Hey! Hey! I'm going at once.

Who is here,
Knocking this way?
Who is here?
We are your friends
Who bring a couple of kids:
They say that he's a good friend who brings (something)
Knock! Knock! Knock! Open the door (for us)
Knock! Knock! Come and open up (for us)

You're wrong,
You and your daughter
You're wrong
To hit/knock this loud;
You, shepherds, you all are boors
You can never gather*
Hush! hush! hush! for the child is dozing
Hush! hush! for the little one is sleeping.

Big on-lookers
Won't you ever stop!
Big on-lookers
Hush a little!
Speak softly and walk as silently
As a snail does
Softly! softly! softly! for the child is resting
Softly! softly! Let him have a rest.

*You can never gather: implied, "without making so much noise"

I couldn't find anything about Jeannette and Isabelle either


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 11:12 AM

Thank you, Monique. That's delightful. I love

'Speak softly and walk as silently
As a snail does.'

I had a thought. Perhaps Jeannette and Isabella were the two kids mentioned in the third verse. (Joking!)


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 01:01 PM

This is a great Christmas carol. Also Joseph Dearest, Joseph mine, which is amost a companion carol to Jeanette Isabella.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 01:15 PM

This one of my favorite lesser known Christmas carols which inspires me to write a fictitious story about the character "Jeanette Isabella". Shifting away from the original context of this character. I am inspired to recreate Jeanette Isabella into a Shepherd girl in the fields at night as the angels appear announcing Christ's birth. Which causes her to become acquainted with Chist in the manger. An encounter that she never anticipated and how God reveals himself to the meek and lowly. The concept is really touching. To make a whole story drawn from the lyrics of the carol itself and building on that and leaving the truth and details of Jesus birth intact.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella
From: GUEST,retired music teacher
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 09:47 PM

I used to be a music teacher & choir dirctor, & also collected hymnals. I often found this carol in the various christian hymnals which were published in the earlier part of the 20th century, but less in the latter half. I never knew of anyone who sang the song until a lady who was ny voice student told me it was her favorite. Now that my great neice is going to a french school, it is one of the songs I know which they usually sing in their Christmas program, along with "Il est ne le devine enfant." However, my neice's class sang one of their own design:

Pirate ship, Pirate ship, Yo Ho! all the way;
Oh what fun it is to ride in a Pirate ship on Christmas da-ay . . .

(not quite the jingle bells I remember.)


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella
From: Genie
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 01:05 AM

Is that Pirate Ship carol sung in the key of "Arrgh?"


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella
From: GUEST,M Hecht
Date: 09 Dec 09 - 09:39 AM

as to the meaning of the Do! Do! in the last French stanza, I would think it means sleep, sleep. It is common to say to a French baby 'fais dodo' (translates as 'go to sleep') as in the song 'fais dodo Colin mon p'tit frere, fais dodo t'auras du gateau'. It makes sense with the rest of the words. What doesn't make sense is the separation of dodo in do! do!


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Subject: RE: Origin: Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella
From: Artful Codger
Date: 09 Dec 09 - 02:39 PM

I thought it was originally "Un guignol, M'sieu Polichinelle"...

(Crawls back to the étable)


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