Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella!

Conductor Notes:

Elektra commissioned Sarah to write this playful SSAA a cappella arrangement for our 2015 Chez Nous concerts. There are several other arrangements of this refreshingly boisterous carol published already, but I was looking for something a little more adventurous, which she delivered. Lots of little rhythmic challenges come together well, including the French sound for knocking on a door “toc, toc, toc”. The overall sound is a satisfying balance of light and robust, conveying the excitement of two girls running to see the new baby and trying not to make too much noise. Attention to detail is a must, and there are enough challenges of notes and texture that would put this out of reach of younger children’s choirs. The score includes singable English and French options. We sang it in English.

References:

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Bring a torch, Jeanette, Isabella!
Bring a torch, to the cradle we’ll run!
It is Jesus, good folk of the village,
Jesus is born, and Mary calls us,
Ah! Ah! Beautiful is the mother,
Ah! Ah! Beautiful is her son.

Who is that who comes here a-­knocking?
Who is that knocking here at the door?
Open up! I’ve arranged on a platter
Wonderful cakes for all who want them.
Knock, knock, open the door now quickly
Knock, knock, open and let us in.

It is wrong when the baby is sleeping,
It is wrong to make so much noise.
Please, be quiet, and don’t wake the baby.
Jesus may rouse at any moment.
Hush, hush, see how the babe is dreaming,
Hush, hush, see how he sleeps so well.

Gently, now, in this little stable,
Gently, now, come close to the crib.
Jesus is such a beautiful babe,
His skin is so pale, his cheeks are rosy.
Oh! Oh! See how he sleeps so soundly,
Oh! Oh! See how he smiles in dreams.