THE FRENCH NOEL
N'avien jamai vist aqueu visage Se soun tout-d'un-cop mes a japa.
Lei pastre dessus la paio Dourmien coume de soucas ; Ouand an aussi lou bru dei sounaio Au crcsegu qu'ero lou souiras.
S'eron de gent resounable, Vendrien sens estrc envita : Trouvarien dins un petit estable La lumiero emai la verita." * "
As for La Monnoye, here is a translation of one of his satirical verses :—" When in the time of frost Jesus Christ came into the world the ass and ox warmed Him with their breath in the stable. How many asses and oxen I know in this kingdom of Gaul ! How many asses and oxen I know who would not have done as much !"12
Apart from the rustic Noels, the eighteenth century produced little French Christmas poetry of any charm. Some of the carols most sung in French churches to-day belong, however, to this period, e.g., the " Venez, divin Messie " of the Abb6 Pellegrini
One cannot leave the France of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries without some mention of its Latin hymnody. From a date near 1700, apparently, comes the sweet and solemn " Adeste, fideles" ; by its music and its rhythm, perhaps, rather than by its actual words it has become the best beloved of Christmas hymns. The present writer has heard it sung with equal reverence and heartiness in English, German, French, and Italian churches, and no other hymn seems so full of the spirit of Christmas devotion—
* " When midnight sounded I leapt from my bed to the floor, and I saw a beautiful angel who sang a thousand times sweeter than a nightingale. The watch-dogs of the neighbourhood all came up. Never had they seen such a sight, and they suddenly began to bark. The shepherds under the straw were sleeping like logs : when they heard the sound of the barking they thought it was the wolves. They were reasonable folk ; they came without waiting to be asked. They found in a little stable the Light, even the Truth."