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Il Est Un Petit Ange

Swiss Christmas Carol

Il Est un Petit Ange (“He Is a Small Angel”) is an old Christmas carol dating to at least the 18th century.

The song speaks of a (Swiss) German boy who is visited by an Angel, bidding him to come see the Christ Child. The boy asks the Angel where He is, so that he might go and worship the poor Child in the stable. He tells the Angel what he wishes to say to Our Lord, hoping to wrap the Little King in linen.

Il Est un Petit Ange is here interpreted by the early music ensemble Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien and the Maîtrise de Radio France.

Listen to Il Est un Petit Ange


Old Swiss-French lyrics

1. Il est un petit l’Ange
Qui jamais li mange;
Dit à moi l’autr (i) jour:
Camarade Alimand, (x2)

Prends ton juste-au-corps,
Et ton l’habiliment.
Fiens foir sti Pouponne.
Quoique tout p’tit, Li est grand.

Li l’être dans l’étable ;
Li l’être misérable ;
Il n’avoir (point) de coffre ;
Li n’avoir (rien) qui Fi auffe ;
Li l’être paufriment bien misérablement.

2. J’ai dit à Monsieu l’Ange:
– Montrés moi sti grange,
Pour y voir sti Pouponne
Qu’Il est si paufriment. (x2)

Pour moi, n’i falloit faire
Un grand trinquement.
Moi saffre bien faire
Un beau p’tit compliment :

Moi parlerai à le Père ;
Moi parlerai à le Mère ;
Moi saffre bien dire :
– Moi reste avec le Sire,
La majesté du Roi ;
Moi Le dis franchement:

3. – Bon jour, Roi de Gloire.
C’est moi, qui Ti fi ens foir.
Comment li portes fous
Depuis l’autri demain ? (x2)

Pourquoi Vous lefir Vous
De si grante matin?
Li l’être dangireux
D’y prendre li sirin.

Ni pleures point, j’ t’en prie!
Mon Demoisell’ Marie,
Baille-moi lis langes
Que je les fi auffe au P’tit l’Ange.
Li l’êtr’ une bonne garçonne.
Car moi le saffre bien.

English translation:

1. He is a small Angel,
Who never eats,
He said to me the other day:
My German friend, (x2)

Put on your jerkin,
Put on your clothes,
Come and see this Infant.
Even though He is tiny, He is great.

He is lying in a stable,
In a pitiful state.
He has no chest of money
And nothing to keep Him warm,
For He is miserably poor.

2. I said to Messire Angel:
– Show me the barn where He is,
So I can go and see this Infant,
Who is so poor. (x2)

For me, it is not necessary
A great banquet with toasts.
But I know how to make
A nice compliment:

I will greet to the Father
I will great to the Mother,
I know what to say.
I will stay there with the Lord,
[And admire] the Majesty of the King.
I will say to Him frankly:

3. Good morning, King of Glory.
It is me – I have come to see You.
How have You been
During this day? (x2)

Why are You awake
So early in the morning?
It is dangerous for You
To risk the morning dew.

Do not cry, please, do not cry!
My Lady Mary,
Give me some pieces of linen
To wrap round the Little Angel,
For You are a good Lady
[Yes], I know it well.

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Il Est Un Petit Ange
For a larger PDF version, click here.

For a version in D Minor, click here.

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