Rappelle-Toi, Jeanne (Remember, Joan) is a French song and prayer to St. Joan of Arc. The tune itself is known in French as “Marche des Soldats de Robert Le Bruce” (March of the Soldiers of Robert the Bruce), and the Scottish know this tune as “Scots Wha Hae”. Tradition has it that this tune was played for St. Joan of Arc’s entrance into Orleans.
The tune is of Scottish origin, and is often played on bagpipes, an instrument characteristic not only of Scotland but also of Brittany and Northern Occitan in France. The
Scottish-French connection is said to have gone as far back as Charlemagne, when
Scottish warriors fought for him. In 1295, the “Auld Alliance” was formed, with both countries promising to defend each other should England attack either country.
In the Renaissance, when many rulers no longer trusted their own armies (due to the explosion of pride and sensuality of the
Revolution), they began to employ regiment of guards from other countries to protect them - a characteristic example of this is the Pope’s Swiss Guard. This was the case with France; in 1418, King Charles VII employed the Scottish Guards as a bodyguard unit for the French Monarchy. It is for this reason that this Scottish tune (and perhaps many others) made its way into the French military repertoire.
The words are taken from “Pious Recreation No. 3”, (specifically from RP3 24R which can be accessed
here) a play written by St. Therese of Lisieux, entitled “Jeanne d'Arc accomplissant sa mission, ou Les Victoires - La Captivité - Le Martyre et Les Triomphes au Ciel de la Vénérable Jeanne de France” (Joan of Arc Accomplishes Her Mission, or the Victories, Captivity, Martyrdom and Triumphs in Heaven of the Venerable Joan of France). In this section, a beautiful dialogue takes place between France and St. Joan of Arc: France pleads with the Saint, asking her to remember her country where she gave glory to God, and begs her intercession to restore France to her former glory. Joan responds that France must be lifted to the Heavens if she wishes to regain her life.