Christmas Music: Songs from France and Italy

If this is the last week your children are in school — you have all of my sympathy, support, and a bag of cookies (very big bag of cookies!). I think this is the hardest week of the year, at least for me. I feel like we have to army crawl with one arm over the finish line on Friday.

This year, I started backwards clicking on my Family Search profile. To my surprise I found that we have several lines of French and Italian ancestors. One of these ancestors was Queen Beatrice of Provence — one of the four sister queens of Medieval Europe. I recommend reading the story of these four sisters, it’s very interesting. Europe as we know it today did not always exist. In the Middle Ages, country and regional boundaries were very different. The area of Southern France, known as modern day Provence was not part of France. France was the area around Paris. In Provence they spoke Occitan which is a romance language, that sounds sort of French, but not all the way. This area had more in common with Italy than Paris. We assign these carols to the French and Italians, but their origins are not necessarily the France and Italy that we know today. Still they are so beautiful and celebrate our Savior Jesus Christ.

Pata-Pan — is actually a Burgundian carol adopted by the French. This song is about the shepherds singing the birth of Christ with their drums (patapan) and their flutes (tu-la-lu-ra-rue).

Il est né, le divin Enfant — He Is Born The Divine Christ Child. This song talks about the prophesies of Christ’s birth and the coming of the Wise Men.

Gesu Bambino — This is my favorite version of this song — and not for the fact that my 1989 self wanted those puffy sleeves Kathleen Battle was wearing.

Tu scendi dalle stelle — From Starry Skies Thou Comest — is a Neapolitan carol. It talks about how Christ was the creator of the earth, and yet he came down to earth to be our Savior.

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About Joyce Anderson

Joyce is a mother, wife, sister, school teacher, Bulgarian speaker, conservative, lover of good music, social media junky and a two time culinary arts Grand Champion bread baker. She and the family reside in a remote mountain community where great discoveries have been made. When not changing the world, she enjoys the occasional bowl of chips and salsa. She can be found at: