Il Est Né

adapted/arr. Karl Hitzemann

"Il Est Né" is a lovely French Christmas carol that has been a favorite of many for decades. Our arrangement has a bright, gentle feel to it, featuring an accompaniment of piano, bass, guitar, and strings. The piano part we've provided would work well for a totally live performance. And if you decide to go that way, it might be nice to have a couple of your students join in with finger cymbals, a triangle, or any combination of rhythm band instruments. A guitar would work very well, too, if you have a decent player.

The song opens and closes with a vocal echo effect, which is optional, of course. If you choose to do it, you could divide your choir in half with one half singing the first line and the second half singing the echo. Or, you could do the echo with two small groups or even two soloists, which would then lead into the entire choir entering at measure 7. For a really dramatic moment, have the students sing the echo somewhere else in the auditorium – in the aisles or behind the audience, for example.

The biggest challenge with this piece will probably be pronouncing the French lyrics. To keep it simple, we only used the first phrase from the original carol – "Il est né le Divin Enfant," which means "He is born, the Divine Child." As usual, you will find a handy pronunciation guide on our web site. The rest of the lyrics are in English, and are original. They're not meant to be a direct translation of the French. If you want to provide an even bigger challenge, you could sing the entire song (or a bigger portion of the song) in French. You'll be able to find all of the French verses with a quick Internet search.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.