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This morning we were listening to Radio-Canada programming from Montréal and the weekly show was playing music from the 1950’s and 1960’s. French singers who are well known and were the big names of their time with many hits. On the weekend Radio-Canada has a programming of Oldies but goodies, tunes anyone over the age of 45 will recognize. This programming of French musical hits is highly popular. This is the sort of music my Mom would listen too and often sing along, she had a nice singing voice.

One of the French singers was Mathé Altery,  a French soprano singer prominent in the 1950s and 1960s for singing operettas and French songs. She was my Mom’s favourite French singer and we had all her records at home. Altery came to Montréal and gave several concerts. My parents met her, she was staying at the hotel my father managed at the time.

Here she sings an old favourite, Noël, trois anges sont venus. This piece was composed in 1884 by French composer Augusta Holmès. It is so very nice to hear this music for its quality in composition and lyrics.

This brings back a lot of memories from my childhood and Christmas then. Altery who is 91 years old now, lives in France. Her singing voice and her French diction was impeccable. She was the French voice of Julie Andrews in the movie the Sound of Music which came out 53 years ago. She sang the well known musical score in French, it is just as charming as the English version.


The words to this Christmas song,

Trois anges sont venus ce soir

M’apporter de bien belles choses,

L’un d’eux avait un encensoir,

L’autre avait un chapeau de roses,

Et le troisième avait en main

Une robe toute fleurie

De perles d’or et de jasmin

Comme en a Madame Marie.

Noël ! Noël !

Nous venons du ciel

T’apporter ce que tu désires,

Car le bon Dieu

Au fond du ciel bleu,

Est chagrin lorsque tu soupires.

Veux-tu le bel encensoir d’or

Ou la rose éclose en couronne ?

Veux-tu la robe, ou bien encore

Un collier où l’argent fleuronne ?

Veux-tu des fruits du Paradis

Ou du blé des célestes granges ?

Ou comme les bergers, jadis,

Veux-tu voir  Jésus dans ses langes ?

Noël ! Noël !

Retournez au ciel

Mes beaux anges, à l’instant même ;

Dans le ciel bleu,

Demandez à Dieu,

Le bonheur pour celui que j’aime.

Augusta Holmès