Douglas Niedt

Classical Guitar Music and Tabs

Arranged By Douglas Niedt

Cover of sheet music, Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella

Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella (Un Flambeau, Jeanette, Isabelle in French) was originally not a song to be sung at Christmas, but rather dance music for French nobility. Fourteenth-century French socials often included the ritournelle, a lively court dance. The melody used for Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella is one such ritournelle melody. It is believed to have originated in the 16th century in the Provence region of France. The lyrics are said to have originated in either Anjou or Burgundy. They were paired with the melody and first published in 1553 by a wealthy nobleman in Cantiques de Premiere Advenement de Jesus-Christ. The carol was subsequently translated into English in the 18th century.

The carol tells the story of two milkmaids, Jeanette and Isabella, who went to a stable in Bethlehem to milk the cows only to find the baby Jesus sleeping in the hay. They were so filled with excitement that they took their torches and ran to the village to spread the news of the newborn Christ child. The townspeople came with their own torches to view the sight for themselves. However, they had to keep their voices down so little Jesus could enjoy his dreams. To this day in the Provence region, children dress up as shepherds and milkmaids, carrying torches and candles to church on Christmas Eve while singing the carol.


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The music package (PDF format) includes:

  • Background essay about the carol
  • Notation Key
  • Score in standard notation and tab
  • Score in standard notation only. Three pages fit nicely on a music stand.
  • Annotated score in standard notation and tab. Contains instructions to help you play the carol.
  • Annotated score in standard notation.

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