Les anges dans nos campagnes

Some French carols are more famous in their English translations than in the original. One of those is “Les anges dans nos campagnes,” known in English as “Angels We Have Heard on High.” Its origins are rather obscure, but it’s known to date to the mid-18th century. It was quickly translated into English by James Chadwick in 1862. The chorus, however, is the same throughout the world, Gloria in excelsis Deo. It’s a real beauty. I’ve sung it my whole life without knowing that it was French.

Here’s the French version. I’ve translated it literally into English, without consideration for how the words fit the tune. All the paintings are from the Louvre.

Les anges dans nos campagnes (Angels in our fields)
Ont entonné l´hymne des cieux, (Launched into the hymn of heaven)
Et l´écho de nos montagnes (And the echo of our mountains)
Redit ce chant mélodieux : (Repeats this melodious song 🙂
Gloria in excelsis Deo (Bis) (Glory to God in the highest)

Bergers, pour qui cette fête? (Shepherds, who is this party for?)
Quel est l´objet de tous ces chants? (What is the reason for all these songs ?)
Quel vainqueur, quelle conquête (What conqueror, what conquest)
Mérite ces cris triomphants : (Merits these triumphant shouts 🙂

Ils annoncent la naissance (They announce the birth)
Du libérateur d´Israël (Of Israel’s liberator)
Et pleins de reconnaissance (And full of gratitude)
Chantent en ce jour solennel : (Sing on this solemn day)

Cherchons tous l´heureux village (Search all the happy village)
Qui l´a vu naître sous ses toits (That has seen him born under its roofs)
Offrons-lui le tendre hommage (Offer him tender homage)
Et de nos cœurs et de nos voix : (From our hearts and our voices)

Bergers, quittez vos retraites, (Shepher ds, leave your shelters)
Unissez-vous à leurs concerts, (Join their concerts)
Et que vos tendres musettes (And may your sweet accordions)
Fassent retenir les airs : (Keep their tunes)

Noël, Noël : French Christmas Music 1200 – 1600

About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France. Follow her on Instagram @Onequalitythefinest and on Twitter @1qualthefinest.
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3 Responses to Les anges dans nos campagnes

  1. Pingback: Minuit, chrétiens | One quality, the finest.

  2. Pingback: Noël nouvelet | One quality, the finest.

  3. Pingback: Quelle est cette odeur agréable | One quality, the finest.

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