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20 Best Traditional French Christmas Songs

20 Best Traditional French Christmas Songs

Christmas is on its way, and it brings with it joy and merriment, worship, and big feasts! But the best part of it all is undeniably the visit from Santa and the Christmas carols sung to usher in Christ's birthday. We bring you a list of the best French Christmas songs, which tell traditional tales in a humble and melodious manner.
CelebrationJoy Staff
Inspiring Melodies
The English carol "Angel We Have Heard On High" was originally written and sung in French, and is titled "Les Anges Dans Nos Campagnes".
Christmas is a time to share joy, be kind, worship the lord, and celebrate in the loving company of friends and family. It brings with it the excitement of Santa, the gifts he bears, and the large gatherings that sit around a big table to enjoy a delicious meal. But one of the best parts of this festival is the wonderfully melodious songs and carols that are sung together by so many people across the globe. Christmas would never be complete without the family gathering around to sing "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer", or opening the door to a choir performing "Silent Night", or walking into a party to the happy tunes of "Jingle Bells."
Christmas is celebrated around the world, and as you shift from cities, to states, and from countries to continents, the flavor of Christmas is uniquely blended in with the culture and traditions of that place. In France for instance, they have the "la fête de Saint Nicolas" or the "Feast of Saint Nicholas", which begins from the 6th of December, and after the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, known as "Messe de Minuit", it is followed by a huge feast called "le Réveillon", which is taken from the word "réveiller", meaning to "wake up or revive". And as with any other country, it has its own set of French Christmas carols, some original,s and others translated from classic English tunes.
We bring you a list of some of the most simple, yet beautiful French Christmas songs from the old to the modern and everything in between!
20 BEST TRADITIONAL FRENCH CHRISTMAS SONGS
Il Est Né, Le Divin Enfant
Translation: He is born, the Holy Child
Description: Written by R. Grosjean in 1862, this carol tells the story of the birth of Jesus and how based on a prophecy told by the prophets, the people waited 4,000 years for this humble, yet miraculous birth of the child of God in a little stable. It calls upon the Three Kings to take care of the child. It is upbeat and is a nice way to kick-start your Christmas celebrations.
Minuit, Chrétiens
Translation: Midnight, Christians
Description: Written in 1843 by Placide Cappeau, it was later translated into its English version, "O Holy Night" by Adolphe Adam in 1847. It is a very traditional song of worship, which talks about how the birth of Jesus is a blessing, ending the troubles of man, bringing hope, and bestowing awe upon humble men. A line in the song states that the light of the people's faith would guide them to the cradle of the child that was born in a modest little manger. It is beautiful and heart-moving in its melodies, and is definitely worth a listen.
Bel Astre Que J'Adore
Translation: Beautiful Star that I Adore
Description: An original French traditional carol from the 15th Century, this song has no known alternate English version. It talks about an immense love for God, and how his arrival freed man from the craving for materialistic wealth and happiness.
Un Flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle!
Translation: Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella!
Description: This carol was first published in the Provence region of France in 1553, and was later translated into English in the 18th century. The carol talks about the people who go to visit baby Jesus, and how they have to whisper so that they can leave the newborn undisturbed with his dreams. The people of Provence still sing this carol on the way to Midnight Mass, dressed as milkmaids and shepherds, and truly setting forth to build the atmosphere of Christmas.
Les Anges Dans Nos Campagnes
Translation: Angels In Our Countryside
Description: Translated and reworked into English in 1862 by James Chadwick, and titled "Angels We Have Heard On High", this song was originally composed in Languedoc, France. This song memorializes the birth of Jesus as seen in the Gospel of Luke, where the shepherds outside Bethlehem witnessed masses of angels singing praises of the newborn.
Le Petit Renne Au Nez Rouge
Translation: Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Description: This is one carol that never gets old! A hit with both children and adults alike, the original English version was written by Robert L. May in 1939 and later adapted into French by Jacques Larue. Popularly known as Santa's Ninth Reindeer, it was known to shine the way on a winter night with its glowing red nose. He was mocked by his friends, but Santa seemed to see his potential, and he is finally seen as a hero. It is a fun song to usher in the Christmas spirit.
Le Marche Des Rois Mages
Translation: The March of the Kings
Description: It is a 13th-century traditional song from Provence, Saboly, and is written by Joseph Domergue. The story told by the French about The March of the Three Kings is reminiscent of heroes from their own folklore, like the valiant knights who fought bravely against the Pope for the lives of their serfs. The tune dates back even further than when the verses themselves were written.
Mon Beau Sapin
Translation: My Beautiful Fir
Description: Originally written in German as "O Tannenbaum" in 1550, it has been translated into many languages, the English version being known as "Oh Christmas Tree". It is also the national song of the state of Maryland. The song talks about the beauty of a Christmas tree and the how it reflects the Christian faith. It is a melodious song to sit back and listen to with family and friends as an end to a wonderful night.
D'où Viens-Tu, Bergère?
Translation: Where are You Coming From, Shepherd?
Description: This is an original French carol, famous worldwide with francophone choirs. The speaker asks a shepherd where he was coming from, to which the latter replied that he had just witnessed a miracle in the form of a baby, who was more brilliant and pure than words could describe. At the end, the speaker wants to go see the newborn himself, and take him some clothes, blankets, and a crib as an offering. This song is a great starter song even for preschoolers.
Noël Nouvelet
Translation: New Christmas
Description: This French carol's origin is debated and was originally meant to be a song for New Year's Eve, but with much reworking and edition, it became a Christmas carol, which was later translated into an English song by the name of "Sing We Now of Christmas". This song again ushers the birth of the newborn King and sings praises of joy at this new arrival.
Patapan
Translation: Pat-a-Pan (Just letters to mimic the sound of the drum)
Description: This Christmas carol was written in Burgundian dialect by Bernard de La Monnoye in 1720. The story of Jesus's birth is told through the perspective of shepherds playing various instruments like flutes and drums, and the name is taken from the sounds they produce. It is a cheerful song that can be enjoyed by both kids and adults alike.
Douce Nuit, Sainte Nuit
Translation: Silent Night, Holy Night
Description: One of the most beautiful carol compositions that has been translated into numerous languages, this song was originally written by Joseph Mohr in 1816. It is a simple, dressed-down song about the night that Jesus was born, and talks of the peace that is both seen on the newborn's face and how it blankets the night in its quiet awe.
Ah! Quel Grand Mystère!
Translation: Ah! What a Great Mystery!
Description: This is a 19th-century French carol that speaks of the amazement at the fact that God could come down on Earth in the innocent form of a child, wrapped in modest clothing in a small manger. It goes on to talk about how his birth broke the shackles that men were tied to, and also describes the day of the birth and the scene around the manger flocked by people from far and wide.
Vive Le Vent
Translation: Jingle Bells
Description: Another jolly song that talks about the sound, sights, and experiences of the festive night. It was written by James Lord Pierpont in 1857, and has since been translated into a multitude of languages. The French version is slightly different as it talks about the Christmas season with its winds, snow, and its festive air.
Aujourd'hui Le Roi Des Cieux
Translation: Today the King of Heaven
Description: This is the French version of the English carol "The First Noel", which interestingly gets its name from the French word "Noël", meaning "Christmas". It was written in the 18th century. The lyrics of this version are different than the original as it talks about how God was put on Earth to save mankind and the events on the day of Jesus's birth.
Çà, Bergers, Assemblons-Nous
Translation: Here, Shepherds, Let Us Gather
Description: It is one of the most well-known French pastoral songs, and is considered to have taken inspiration from the Gospel of Luke, where it is said that when angels descended upon Earth, the shepherds were afraid by the arrival. The angels pacify them by telling them that they bring the joyous news of the birth of Christ on Earth. In this carol, upon hearing the news, all the shepherds decided to go visit the newborn, despite the long journey and chilly winter winds.
Petit Papa Noël
Translation: Tiny Father Christmas
Description: Written by Raymond Vincy and Henri Martinet, and recorded by French singer Tino Rossi in 1946, this is one of the more modern songs that is currently the best-selling single of all time in France. With gentle and soothing melodies, this song has acted as a lullaby for many a child in France on an excitement-filled Christmas Eve. This is a song written from the perspective of a child who says his prayers before bedtime and wishes for some toys, and tells Santa that he hopes to see him as he comes to deliver the goodies. Now, who hasn't done that at some point in their childhood?
Quelle Est Cette Odeur Agréable?
Translation: What is That Nice Smell?
Description: This French Carol was written in the 17th century and is a traditional song written about the Nativity of Jesus based on the accounts given in the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of Matthew.
L'enfant Au Tambour
Translation: The Little Drummer Boy
Description: Written in English by teacher and composer Katherine Kennicott Davis in 1941, "The Little Drummer Boy" was recorded by the Trapp Family Singers in 1955 and later popularized by Harry Simeone Chorale in his 1958 re-recorded version. It has been covered by hundreds of artists since. The French version varies from the original lyrics, and is hauntingly beautiful in both story and melodies.
Venez O Fideles
Translation: O Come, All Ye Faithful
Description: The original version in English is attributed to various people from King John IV of Portugal, to John reading, to John Francis Wade. The word "Faithful" here refers to the Church and the Christian people and calls on them to gather in order to witness the Nativity.
This is a list of some beautiful French Christmas renditions that have brightened the mood and celebrations of the festival for the French. We hope this article has helped you, and that you're on your way to a very merry French Christmas!