“Patapan”, a Christmas Carol from Burgundy, France (in French, Burgundian and English) with an MP3 Recording

Patapan, or Guillaume prends ton tambourin, is a traditional song from the Burgundy region in France. It’s also known in English as Willie Take Your Little Drum. It was written by Bernard de la Monnoye (1641-1728) around 1700. Monnoye wrote many other Burgundian carols around the same time.

A tambourin is a small cylindrical drum, usually made out of wood and covered with an animal skin. It’s hung from the shoulders and played with the hands. ‘Turelurelu’ is the sound the flute makes and ‘patapatapan’ is the sound of the drum. This is most likely the inspiration for the English Christmas song, The Little Drummer Boy.

The French lyrics to Patapan are below, followed by an English translation and the original Burgundian version… Here you can listen to an MP3 of Patapan in French, as sung by Choral singer David W. Solomons.

Patapan
(French)

Guillaume prends ton tambourin
Toi, prends ta flûte, Robin;
Au son de ces instruments
Turelurelu, patapatapan
Au son de ces instruments
Je dirai Noël gaîment.

C’était la mode autrefois
De louer le Roi des rois
Au son de ces instruments
Turelurelu, patapatapan
Au son de ces instruments
Il nous en faut faire autant.

L’homme et Dieu sont plus d’accord
Que la flûte et le tambour;
Au son de ces instruments
Turelurelu, patapatapan
Au son de ces instruments
Chantons, dansons, sautons en!

Here’s a fairly literal English translation of Patapan…

Willie Take Your Little Drum
(English)

Willie take your little drum,
Robin take your flute, come!
To the sound of these instruments
Tu-re-lu-re-lu, pat-a-pat-a-pan,
To the sound of these instruments
I will joyfully sing Merry Christmas!

It was the way of yonder times
To praise the king of kings
To the sound of these instruments
Tu-re-lu-re-lu, pat-a-pat-a-pan,
To the sound of these instruments
We must do the same.

Man and god agree
About the flute and the little drum…
To the sound of these instruments
Tu-re-lu-re-lu, pat-a-pat-a-pan,
To the sound of these instruments
Sing! Dance! Jump around!

Here’s Patapan in the old Burgundian dialect, which has an additional verse (#3)…

Guillô, pran ton tamborin
(Burgundian Dialect)

Guillô, pran ton tamborin;
Toi, pran tai fleúte, Rôbin!
Au son de cé instruman,
Turelurelu, patapatapan,
Au son de cé instruman
Je diron Noei gaiman

C’ étó lai môde autrefoi
De loüé le Roi dé Roi,
Au son de cés instruman,
Turelurelu, patapatapan,
Au son de cés instruman,
Ai nos an fau faire autan.

Ce jor le Diale at ai cu
Randons an graice ai Jesu
Au son de cés instruman,
Turelurelu, patapatapan,
Au son de cés instruman,
Fezon lai nique ai Satan.

L’homme et Dei son pu d’aicor
Que lai fleúte & le tambor.
Au son de cés instruman,
Turelurelu, patapatapan,
Au son de cés instruman,
Chanton, danson, sautons-an.

Many thanks to David W. Solomons for letting me link to his wonderful mp3 recording of Patapan. David is a one man choral singer who has been playing instruments and singing for over 30 years. Here’s a link to more of David Solomons’ Christmas music or visit his home page.

Come visit the Mama Lisa’s World France page for French children’s songs with their English translations and…

Mama Lisa’s World en français for children’s songs around the world with their French translations.

This article was posted on Wednesday, December 14th, 2005 at 11:28 am and is filed under Burgundy, Christmas, Christmas Songs, Countries & Cultures, France, French, French Kids Songs, Guillaume prends ton tambourin, Holiday Songs, Holidays Around the World, Languages, MP3's, Patapan, Recordings of Songs, Willie Take Your Little Drum. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

8 Responses to ““Patapan”, a Christmas Carol from Burgundy, France (in French, Burgundian and English) with an MP3 Recording”

  1. Crane courtney Says:

    hi i like this music. a lot bye

  2. Peggy Plunkett Says:

    I like it too. I used to play it on my descant recorder. Many thanks for sharing.

  3. marielou mendoza Says:

    i have 11 boys in class 3, they love drums. I think they will love this old song just as i do!

  4. KK Says:

    Awesome song! David Archuleta sings it really well. Look it up! It’s amazing!

  5. Sarah Says:

    Unfortunately, the MP3 link has terrible French pronunciation. When they sing “instruments” there should be a nasal “n” sound. This is totally unacceptable if you care anything at all about the art of singing. You will get much better by going on Youtube.

  6. Monique Says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t he pronounce “instruments” as [ɛ̃stRymɑ̃] (as written with the International Phonetic Alphabet) as should be? He sings the whole song in present standard French or is he supposed to sing in the genuine early 18th century Burgundy accent?

  7. Michael Schuttenberg Says:

    It is also believed that “Patapan” was the basis for Katherine Kennicott Davis composing the very popular American Christmas carol “Carol of the Drum” which name was changed to “Little Drummer Boy”. The themes are identical, and the “patapan” refrain was modified to her “parumpapumpum”. She was a music student at Wellesley College and later became a teacher, composing many other hymns and songs.

  8. Lefty Says:

    We sang it in French class with slightly different words. (I may have some spellings incorrect.) It was ‘Turelurelu, turelurelon’ and the last line ‘Chanterons Noel gaiment.’

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