Sunday, 21 December 2014

Catalan Carol yesterday. French carol today

Back in the day when John Cheney was the music director at St. Stephen's, Pittsfield, he chose the French carol " Il est le petit enfant"  as one of the songs for the choir at "Midnight Mass".  John was wise enough to have it sung in French.
 
It so happened that a young Frenchman (an exchange student) was in the congregation with his host family.  He had never before been in an Episcopal Church.
 
Can you begin to imagine how much he felt "at home" when he heard a French carol sung in his native tongue in an American congregation.  
 
(He said after the service that the pronunciation had been perfect).
 
" Il est  " has had a warm place in my heart ever since that Christmas.
 
Here are two versions, each lovely in different ways.
 
 
 
And here are the lyrics in French and in English.
 
 
,Il est  le divin Enfant
Words: Traditional French Lyrics
Music: Traditional French
Chorus:Il est ne, le divin Enfant,
Jouez, hautbois, resonnez, musettes;
Il est ne, le divin Enfant;
Chantons tous son avenement!
1. Depuis plus de quatre mille ans,
Nous le promettaient les Prophetes;
Depuis plus de quatre mille ans,
Nous attendions cet heureux temps. Chorus
 
2. Ah! qu'il est beau, qu'il est charmant,
Que ses graces sont parfaites!
Ah! qu'il est beau, qu'il est charmant,
Qu'il est doux le divin Enfant! Chorus
 
3. Une etable est son logement,
Un peu de paille, sa couchette,
Une etable est son logement,
Pour un Dieu, quel abaissement! Chorus
 
ENGLISH TRANSLATION (or paraphrase)
 
 
Refrain:
He is born, the holy Child,
Play the oboe and bagpipes merrily!
He is born, the holy Child,
Sing we all of the Savior mild.
1 Through long ages of the past,
Prophets have foretold His coming;
Through long ages of the past,
Now the time has come at last!
2 O how lovely, O how pure
Is this perfect Child of heaven;
O how lovely, O how pure
Gracious gift to humankind!
3 Jesus, Lord of all the world,
Coming as a Child among us,
Jesus, Lord of all the world,
Grant to us Thy heavenly peace.

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