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The Villagers of Ch​â​tres

from Midwinter Revels by GreenMatthews

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Chris’ translation of the traditional French carol Les Bourgeois de Châtres, which we learned from possibly our favourite festive album ever - the magical Noël Baroque by Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien. It transplants the Nativity story from 1st-century Palestine to rural 17th-century France - there are shepherds with bagpipes and shawms, a village band with drums and trumpets and a priest who arrives with wine for everyone! Sophie plays baroque oboe on this track which is rather special as it's the only instrument she plays that she made herself.

lyrics

The villagers of Châtres and those of Montlery
Upon this glorious night rejoiced and danced with glee
For Jesus Christ was born as told in song and fable
And in a manger then was laid
Between the ox and ass where they
Stood in a lowly stable

The angels to the fields came in a shining throng
And to the shepherds told glad tidings with their song
That in a byre mean the Son of God was lying
The offspring of a virgin's womb
Who from above to Earth had come
To save all men from dying

They left their flocks and took their bagpipes and their shawms
To where the angels said the Son of God was born
And lustily they sang and played a merry bourrée
Upon their way across the moor until at last they stood before
The manger where the child lay

And from the hamlet of St-Germain close nearby
There came the village band across the countryside
And as they came upon the stable and the manger
They joined the shepherds' pipes and shawms
with drums and trumpet fifes and horns
To hail the holy stranger

And then came Father John, the vicar of Églis
Who brought a cask of wine to make us all merry
and with him came his schoolboys, who in heavenly chorus
Sang out a hymn of welcome to Jesus Christ the new-born King
Born on this blest night for us

credits

from Midwinter Revels, released November 30, 2020
Music trad. Lyrics translated from French and made to rhyme by Chris.

Sophie: voice, baroque oboe, recorder

Chris: voice, mandocello, guitar

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GreenMatthews Coventry, UK

Chris Green and Sophie Matthews play English traditional songs and tunes in a thoroughly 21st-century kick-ass style. Using a blend of ancient instruments such as cittern, English bagpipes and shawm as well as modern folk instruments such as guitar, flute and piano accordion, they breathe new life into material from hundreds of years ago, making it fresh and relevant for a modern audience. ... more

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