Petits chanteurs are on song

I regularly listen to the King's College carols on Christmas Eve. Is there a French equivalent?

4 January 2011

I regularly listen to the King’s College carols on Christmas Eve. Is there a French equivalent and where could I find a good CD of French carols? A.W.

In French, carols are called chants or cantiques (which must be religious) de Noël, or just noëls. Probably the best-known French choir for carols is Les Petits Chanteurs à la Croix de Bois (literally the “little wooden cross singers”, but also known, in English, as The Little Singers of Paris). This Paris-based boy’s choir, founded in 1907, regularly appears on television.

A spokeswoman said it would appear over the Christmas season on France 3, but dates and times were not known on going to press. CDs of their carol singing can be found in their online shop at www.pccb.fr/ boutique-en-ligne

You can also find their CDs on such sites as www.amazon.fr or www.fnac.fr and you will find other Christmas compilations there by searching for chants de Noël.

Common compilation songs include the oldest French carol, Entre le Boeuf et l’Ane Gris (Between the Ox and the Grey Ass), dating from the 16th century, Il est Né le Divin Enfant (originating from the Lorraine region), Douce Nuit (Silent Night), and Minuit Chrétien (O Holy Night).

The latter is by French 19th-century composer Adolphe Adam to a poem by a wine merchant and poet from the Gard, Placide Cappeau. It is often sung by a tenor soloist at Christmas Eve mass.

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