"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Monday, December 9, 2013

Oui, c'est Noel!

This is the snooty-patootie version of a song I learned to sing in French class.

That Renee Fleming - she sure knows how to milk a song.

Most of the songs I learned in French class were ones that I knew the English versions, although most of them did not translate equally across the languages. Jingle Bells, for example, is Tinte Cloches, a song about Father Christmas (Pere Noel) arriving on a train to give young children what they dream about. A train? Where'd the reindeer go? Baggage?

But Un Flambeau, Jeanette Isabella escaped me. I had never sung this song. But it's a sweet little ditty and flows off the tongue, something you can't say about a lot of French.

I looked up the translation and, hmm, well, maybe I'll stick with the French and not ask questions. Supposedly, the song is a call to a young girl to bring a torch to the stable and gather all the children together to see the Baby Jesus, but then to tell them to shut up because the baby's sleeping.

First of all, bring a torch to a stable? Around all that hay? Does that sound like a good idea to anyone?

Second, why are we gathering a crowd just to tell them to keep the noise down? Crowds are notoriously not quiet, especially crowds of children. They can whisper louder than the brass section of a jazz band.

Forget the translation. Just enjoy the lovely melody and lilting words.

ah-aH-AH que la mere est belle, ah-aH-AH que l'enfant est beau.

1 comment:

Jennifer Silva Redmond said...

This "gather all the children together to see the Baby Jesus, but then to tell them to shut up because the baby's sleeping" reminds me of the old joke: nurse, to a sleeping patient, "Wake up, it's time for your sleeping pill."

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