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Learn Some Traditional French Christmas Carols

By November 28, 2012

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On a long road trip yesterday, I was determined to imbue my family with the spirit of Christmas.  I chose music as my medium (of course) and managed to find Christmas music stations throughout the three states we passed through.  The thing is, after about an hour, it seemed like each station started playing the same songs again, with an occasional obscure number thrown in for good measure.

Now, I understand that they need to keep their listeners happy, and listeners want to hear "Silent Night" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," and I'm not expecting them to switch up their playlists any time soon.  Luckily, we have voices and can sing our own Christmas music, so I'm now determined to learn a few new Christmas carols.  I know all of the classics, even the obscure ones (I'm a caroling overachiever, what can I say), but old carols are still my favorite. What to do?  Turn to the French, of course!

France has a phenomenal tradition of Christmas carols (called "noels"), many of which have not been traditionally translated into English.  I don't mind singing in other languages (neither do most carolers, really... "Adeste Fideles" and "O Tannenbaum" are both sung plenty in their original languages), so my goal is to learn a few classic noels before this Christmas season is over.  About.com's Guide to French, Laura Lawless, has a great collection of lyrics to French Christmas carols, so I'll be starting there.

I'll be the first to admit that Continental seasonal music is not my area of expertise, musically, so I turn to you, mes amis, for suggestions of great French holiday recordings.  Any that I really should hear, or that will be particularly helpful in my quest to learn some French Christmas carols, or that my family won't disown me for forcing them to hear?  Leave a comment below!

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