Song Analysis

Jeanette, Isabella

Tuesday 16 August 2011, by Cécile Desbrun

"Jeanette, Isabella" from Tori’s seasonal record Midwinter Graces is based on the traditional 18th century carol "Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella" which is itself based on a French carol of the 16th century —althougb the music is actually dating from the 14th century— from the Provence region, "Un flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle."

At first, the song wasn’t a Christmas carol but a dance music for the French nobility. It relates how the neighbours of the village learn about Jesus’ birth and, carrying torches and candles, gather to the stable to admire him. They have to stay quiet as not to wake up the baby. Even though Tori altered the lyrics of the song, it retains all its meaning and doesn’t really differ from the original. Most notable additions on her part are two verses emphasing the candles and lantern flames and how they guide, physically and spiritually the people.

It is interesting to note there was a tradition in Provence which consisted in children dressing up as shepherds and milmaids, and walking carrying torches and lanterns to attend the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. They often sing this carol and other hymns on their way.

Information sources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bring_a_Torch,_Jeanette,_Isabella