Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. ~ Isaiah 7:14
Christmas Song Lyrics Compiled by Charles P. Scott
Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella
Performed by the Crofts Family
Bring a torch, Jeannette, Isabella
Bring a torch, come swiftly and run
Christ is born, tell the folk of the village
Jesus is sleeping in His cradle
Ah! Ah! Beautiful is the Mother
Ah! Ah! Beautiful is her Son.
Quiet now while 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 slumbers
Hush! Hush! See how fast He sleeps.
Hasten now, good folk of the village
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 slumbers
Hush! Hush! Peacefully now He sleeps.
Softly to the little stable
Softly for 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.
About This Song
Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella is a 16th century Christmas carol originating in the Provence region of France. It was first published in 1553 in French, and was translated into English in the 18th century.
The carol is about two farm hands - Jeanette and Isabella - coming across baby Jesus and Mary in a stable and rushing to tell local villagers, who come to visit.
The torches, or candles, of ancient Hanukkah's Festival of Lights played an important part in Christmas celebrations in Provence and southern Europe. Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella is a wonderful example of the torch songs of that time.
The popularity of this song was immediate and long lasting, and it’s said to have inspired several paintings by Georges de La Tour.
The melody was later used by French Baroque composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643––1704) for his song “à boire Qu'ils sont doux, bouteille jolie (How Sweet to Drink, Pretty Bottle)” from a comedy by Molière satirizing the 17th century French medical establishment. Charpentier––famous for his work in both religious settings and musical theatre––may have been the George Gershwin of his day; and the 3/8 meter rooted in traditional Provençal dance rhythms may have been that era’s swing music.
It’s no wonder that this song, with its interesting harmonic possibilities and unusual form, is a favorite of jazz musicians. (The interludes between the verses in this track are little conversational dances between bassist Joël Dilley and drummer Johnathan Alexander.)
The lyrics switch character and point of view from verse to verse, painting a nativity scene that’s local, familiar, and wholly celebratory. It begins with the news of the baby’s birth and a call for village girls to fetch light to illumine the mother and child. Boisterous guests bring food and demand entrance, drawing an admonishment to lower their voices lest they wake the baby. Finally, we are all invited to quietly draw near and watch the little one napping peacefully, “laughing in his sleep.”
A sweet story for all ages, devoid of shadow, with a universally human message both simple and profound.