Featured Content: William Ryden’s Jeannette, Isabella

Featured Content: William Ryden's Jeannette, Isabella

Today’s featured content is William Ryden’s beautiful concert band arrangement of the French carol Jeanette, Isabella. This grade 1 piece is particularly well suited to middle school bands.

To view the score and hear the recording simultaneously, first click the play button:

 

Then follow along in the score by clicking the fullscreen icon in the bottom right corner of the score window below. Change pages using arrows (on your keyboard or onscreen) and close the score by pressing the esc key. (Alternatively, you can click here to open the score in a new window.)

Jeanette, Isabella Notes from Arranger William Ryden

This lovely carol comes from the Provence region of France where it is known as “Un Flambeau, Jeanette, Isabelle” (Bring a torch, Jeannette, Isabella). It is believed to date from the 17th century, possibly composed by Nicholas Saboly (1614-1675).

Like many carols, it tells a story. The best-known version is the translation by Edward Cuthbert Nunn (1868-1914) which begins:

Bring a torch, Jeannette, Isabella!
Bring a torch to the cradle, run!
It is Jesus, good folk of the village;
Christ is born and Mary’s calling:
Ah! Ah! beautiful is the Mother
Ah! Ah! beautiful is her Son!

The custom of acting out a scene beside the cradle of Jesus goes back to the middle ages. In southern Europe, the torches, or candles, of Chanukah the Jewish Festival of Lights played an important part in Christmas celebrations.

The carol should be played simply and with forward motion, but without haste. Keep the tempo steady till the final measures and let it gradually fade out.

Looking for Something Else?

We invite you to explore the extensive SmartMusic Repertoire Library and/or request additional titles you’d like us to add.

Get the best from SmartMusic

Discover practical music education tips, delivered directly to you!