16 December 2009

Angels We Have Heard On High

At this time of year, remember the Parisi, the original settlers of Paris and environs, who were Celts. This heritage helps to explain the distinctive sound of French Chirtsmas carols. Il est né le divin enfant, Minuit Chrétien, Un Flambeau Jeannette Isabelle, and Les Anges dans nos campagnes or Angels We Have Heard On High are readily distinguishable from English and German carols for their sprightly rhythms and celebratory mood.

Although Stefan Lochner (c. 1405-c.1452) who painted Angels Adoring Baby Jesus was a German Gothic artist, I think his angels are the ones we imagine when we hear the angel carol. Lochner's curly-headed angel children are anything but saccharine. Notice the little hand reaching over the picture frame, the moving eyes. Each child an individual personality within the group. They are children, children who like to have fun, just the ones to invite to a celebration.

Note: Stefan Lochner's work is in the Bavarian State Museum, collection of Old Paintings, Munich, Germany.