John Speller's Web Pages Séchez les Larmes de vos Yeux!

John Speller's Web Pages - French Noëls

Séchez les Larmes de vos Yeux!
The French have a term, Chansons de quête ("questing songs") for carols that were sung going round the neighborhood seeking food and (generally alcoholic) refreshment, in such seasons as Christmas and Easter.

The well-known Latin carol, "O filii et filiae" was probably originally such a Chanson de quête, with its wonderful plainsong tune often ascribed to Jean Tisserand, who died in 1493 -- the year after Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

What is particularly interesting about this particular Chanson de quête is that it is a kind of parody of "O filii et filiae" and is sung to the same tune.

At the beginning the "questers" go round asking for eggs for Easter. When, however, they are met with procrastination or refusal, they admit that eggs are not what they are after at all, but rather what they really want is to get their hands on the attractive daughter of the household -- or if she turns out not to less attractive than they had thought, then forget it! Needless to say this attitude doesn't get them very far ...

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Noli me tangere. Mary Magdalen weeping outside the Tomb
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