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Christmas

 

On the streets or on the Pont-Neuf in seventeenth-century Paris, parodies of songs could be heard, often reflecting the time of year. This carol, "Noël", was very probably performed at Christmas in 1696. It starts by following the traditional words to the carol, before inviting those present to add their own version, usually reflecting famous people of the day. This performance contains just one example of the many scurrilous and often surreal imaginings that were added: the one supplementary verse refers here to the well-known penchant of the King's brother, Philippe d'Orléans, for cross-dressing. 

Pour bien chanter la feste

De ce jour solennel,

Que le public s'appreste,

Amis, chantons Noël!

Chacun s'est appresté

De voir ce Dieu fait homme,

A ma relation, don don,

Quiconque a plus vu là, la la,

Peut ajouter un tôme.

Bien muni de pommade, 

Monsieur ne manqua pas

De se rendre à l’Estable

En de nouveaux appas;

Il étoit équipé

En franche courtisanne,

Et de dévotion don don,

Il n’en eut ce jour là lala,

Que pour le nez de l’Asne!

 

[In order to sing the feast

Of this solemn day,

Let the public ready themselves.

Friends, let us sing Noël!

Everybody rushed to see

This God made man,

To my telling of the tale, don don,

Whoever saw more there, la la,

Can add a volume.

 

Well doused with perfume,

Monsieur did not miss out

Appearing in the stable

Decked out in new delights;

He was dressed up fully as a strumpet,

And he had no devotion don don

On that day la la

Other than for the donkey’s "nose"!]

 

Now listen to Badinage, with Katie Bray, perform the carol: https://soundcloud.com/eerw2/6-noel?in=eerw2/sets/performances

And follow Jonathan Rees's arrangement: https://www.parisiansoundscapes.org/Arrangements/Noel/view