Quelle est cette odeur agréable

Angels4

Lately, I’ve been presenting some traditional French carols. Today’s Christmas carol, Quelle est cette odeur agréable (kel eh set odur a-gray-a-bluh), dates to the 17th century. It has been translated in English as Whence is that goodly fragrance flowing? I’d never heard it before, despite many years of Christmas programs at Church and at the school where I work. That’s a shame, as the tune and words are both beautiful. The original has six verses, but typically only three or four are sung. This version, sung by Chanticleer, uses four verses. Here are the lyrics with my literal translation. The works of art are from the Louvre.

Bergers3

Quelle est cette odeur agréable, (What is that agreeable fragrance,)
Bergers, qui ravit tous nos sens? (Shepherds, that delights all our senses ?)
S’exhale t’il rien de semblable (That wafts like nothing similar)
Au milieu des fleurs du printemps? (In the middle of spring flowers ?)
Quelle est cette odeur agréable (What is that agreeable fragrance,)
Bergers, qui ravit tous nos sens? (Shepherds, that delights all our senses ?)

Mais quelle éclatante lumière (But what exploding light)
Dans la nuit vient frapper nos yeux (In the night just struck our eyes)
L’astre de jour, dans sa carrière, (The day star, in its pathway)
Fût-il jamais si radieux! (Was never so radiant !)
Mais quelle éclatante lumière (But what exploding light)
Dans la nuit vient frapper nos yeux. (In the night just struck our eyes)

Blanchard

À Bethléem, dans une crèche (In Bethlehem, in a manger)
Il vient de vous naitre-un Sauveur (Was just born for us – a Savior)
Allons, que rien ne vous empêche (Let’s go, let nothing prevent you)
D’adorer votre rédempteur (From adoring your redeemer)
À Bethléem, dans une crèche, (In Bethlehem, in a manger)
Il vient de vous naître-un Sauveur. (Was just born for us – a Savior)

Dieu tout puissant, gloire éternelle (God all powerful, eternal glory)
Vous soit rendue jusqu’aux cieux. (Will be given to you until the heavens)
Que la paix soit universelle (Let peace be universal)
Que la grâce abonde en tous lieux. (Let grace abound in every place.)
Dieu tout puissant, gloire éternelle (God all powerful, eternal glory)
Vous soit rendue jusqu’aux cieux. (Will be given to you until the heavens)

61EDr2L%2BTtL__SL75_Listen to this and more music from Chanticleer on Sing We Christmas

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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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One Response to Quelle est cette odeur agréable

  1. Pingback: Un flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle | One quality, the finest.

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