Category Archives: Music

St. Nicholas Hymn (en francais)


This popular French song, the Légende de Saint Nicolas, dates back to the 16th century and is still sung by French children today. It tells the rather gruesome story of St. Nicholas rescuing three children from an evil butcher. The story, which was originally of three young men—traveling scholars, is told in France of three young children (see illustrations from 1935). Here on this page, they are shown as older children by 19th century artist E. de Liphart. Music and an English text, freely translated by poet James Henry Dixon, follow the original French.

E. de Liphart, illustrator
Maison Quantin, Paris ca 1880
St Nicholas Center Collection
Children approach butcher's

They came to the butcher’s one evening  

St Nicolas at table

Butcher, butcher, do not flee. 
Rise up, children

Then the Saint extended his fingers 
Music to traditional French song
Click for printable PDF

Saint NICOLAS (La Légende de Saint Nicolas)

    Ils étaient trois petits enfants
    Qui s’en allaient glaner aux champs—
    S’en vinr’nt un soir chez un boucher:
    ”Boucher, voudrais-tu nous coucher?”—
    Entrez, entrez, petits enfants,
    Il y’a d’la place assurément! . . .

Ils n’étaient pas sitôt entrés
Que le boucher les a tués,
Les a coupés en p’tits morceaux,
Mis au saloir comme pourceaux.

    Ils étaient, etc.

Saint Nicolas, au bout d’sept ans,
Vint à passer dedans ce champ,
Alla frapper chez le boucher:
“Boucher, voudrais-tu me loger?”

    Ils étaient, etc.

— Entrez, entrez, saint Nicolas,
Il y’a d’la place, il n’en manq’pas.”
Il n’était pas sitôt entré
Qu’il a demandé à souper.

    Ils étaient, etc.

“Du p’tit salé je veux avoir
Qu’il y a sept ans qu’est dans l’saloir.”
Quand le boucher entendit ça,
Hors de la porte il s’enfuya.

    Ils étaient, etc.

“Boucher, boucher, ne t’enfuis pas;
Repens-toi, Dieu t’pardonnera.”
Saint Nicolas alla s’asseoir
Dessus le bord de ce saloir.

    Ils étaient, etc.

“Petits enfants qui dormez là,
Je suis le grand saint Nicolas.”
Et le saint étendit trois doigts.
Les p’tits se lèvent tous les trois.

    Ils étaient, etc.

The Legend of Saint Nicholas
freely translated from the French

Three little children sought the plain
Gleaners of the golden grain.
They lingered past the angel-song,
And dewy shadows swept along.

‘Mid the silence of the wood
The butcher’s lonely cottage stood,
“Butcher! lodge us for the night,
Lodge us till the morning light.”
“Enter in, ye children small,
I can find a place for all.”

The butcher seized a knife straitway,
And did the little creatures slay.
He put them in a tub of brine,
In pieces small as they were swine.

St. Nicholas, at seven years end,
His way did to the forest wend.
He sought the butcher’s cottage drear:
“Butcher! I would rest me here!”

“Enter! enter, St. Nicholas!
You are welcome, St. Nicholas!
Enter! enter, St. Nicholas!
There’s place for you the night to pass.”
Scarce had the Saint his entrance made,
He would the supper board was laid.

“Will you have of ham a slice?”
“I will not, for it is not nice!”
“Of this veal you’ll take a bit?”
“No! I do not relish it.”

“Give me of the little swine,
For seven long years have laid in brine!”
The butcher caught the words he said,
And forthwith from the portal fled.

“Butcher! butcher! do not flee,
Repent and God will pardon thee!”

St. Nicholas the tub drew near,
And lo! he placed three fingers there.
The first one said, “I sweetly rest!”
The second said, “I too am blest!”
The third replied, “Tis well with me,
In Paradise I seem to be!”

Freely translated from the French by English poet James Henry Dixon (1803–1876), Centro Studi Nicolaiani, Bari, Itlay, 1983. Used by permission.

A 17th century version of this song

Panis Angelicus

Eucharist_Fatima_Angel_ChildrenThe Angel appeared to the children at the Loca do Cabeço, in the fall of 1906. He was “holding a chalice in his hands, with a host above it from which some drops of blood were falling into the Sacred vessel.” The Angel left the chalice and host suspended in the air, and prostrated himself upon the ground with the children and prayed the following prayer with them three times:

Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly, and I offer you the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference with which He Himself is offended. And through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners. Amen.

The Angel then rose, and taking the host he gave it to Lucy, and to Jacinta and Francisco he gave the contents of the chalice, saying as he did so: “Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Repair their crimes and console your God.” Then he prostrated himself once more with the children and repeated the prayer to the Most Holy Trinity three times, then disappeared.

My sweet Lord, look with mercy upon your people and especially upon the mystical body of your Church. Greater glory is given to your name for pardoning a multitude of your creatures than if I alone were pardoned for my great sins against your majesty. It would be no consolation for me to enjoy your life if your holy people stood in death. For I see that sin darkens the life of your bride the Church – my sin and the sins of others.

It is a special grace I ask for, this pardon for the creatures you have made in your image and likeness. When you created man, you were moved by love to make him in your own image. Surely only love could so dignify your creatures. But I know very well that man lost the dignity you gave him; he deserved to lose it, since he had committed sin.

Moved by love and wishing to reconcile the human race to yourself, you gave us your only-begotten Son. He became our mediator and our justice by taking on all our injustice and sin out of obedience to your will, eternal Father, just as you willed that he take on our human nature. What an immeasurably profound love! Your Son went down from the heights of his divinity to the depths of our humanity. Can anyone’s heart remain closed and hardened after this?

We image your divinity, but you image our humanity in that union of the two which you have worked in a man. You have veiled the Godhead in a cloud, in the clay of our humanity. Only your love could so dignify the flesh of Adam. And so by reason of this immeasurable love I beg, with all the strength of my soul, that you freely extend your mercy to all your lowly creatures.

An American Reel


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© 2015 William Keevers – It’s Your Heritage, but this copyright stops anyone from preventing me from using it too. It’s marked with conventional chords, but all it really needs for accompaniment is spoons doing a skittle rhythm (Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter). It’s in oral tradition now. One of the best of American folk music, it’s like Scottish-Irish with African-American rhythmic influence, played allegro, really snappy counter rhythms. Lifted from a tape sometime in the 70s on KPFA, communist radio. “It’s really a reel.”

Alexander Courage, Dolorous Theme, “The Waltons”

Season 5, # 8 “The Wedding”, Part 2 (November 4, 1976)

The Waltons marked a departure from Hollywood’s deprecation of Southern culture, customary since the advent of movie sound.

Contrary to the Lil’ Abner/Jubilation T. Cornpone approach, Alexander Courage’s vastly underappreciated treatment of musical themes are of unknown, literal authenticity.

The approach in this piece seems a combination of Cecil Sharp and Frederick Delius.

Most Dissonant Ending


“Cadence” is something we all recognized in harmony, a kind of “Amen” that signifies completion and finality at the end of a musical phrase. This movie, 1936′s “Rose Marie” with Nelson Eddy and Jeannette MacDonald, has a completely dissonant, unresolved cadence.


Sebastian Bach Bb Keyboard Partita Minuet II

Keyboard Practice

Keyboard Practice

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My wife was in the hospital, we thought it was necrotizing fasciitis, I went to say goodbye to her.

I came home and learned to play this piece.

Deus Vult, she’s still with me, 10 years after.

Couple Avoids Jail: Will Keep Record Store Open

by Judith Schumann Weizner

Back Issues of Heterodoxy

(April/May 2000)

The Musicants

The Musikants

Today, Ernest and Sylvia Musikant are breathing easy for the first time in many months , having won an eleventh-hour reprieve of the prison sentence they were to begin serving this morning for a violation of the Racial Equity in Employment Act.

The couple, whose classical record store, We’ll Get Bach To You, has been a fixture on Manhattan’s West Side since 1968, had been ordered to report to the Federal Race and Hate Crimes Correctional Facility on Ward’s Island to begin their fourteen-year term, but last-minute negotiations with former employee Harris Holloway led Holloway to drop his complaint in exchange for certain concessions.

Holloway, also known as Akimbo Ali, had charged the Musikants with promoting cultural stereotypes by giving him menial work to do while allowing other employees to sell records.

The Musikants hired Holloway in 1998 to do general maintenance and cleaning. As far as they knew he was satisfied with their treatment of him, but during his hearing before the Racial Equity in Employment Commission (REEC), it developed that Holloway had told his therapist that he felt his self-esteem seriously compromised by having to dust the displays in the presence of customers and the sales force.

At first, this revelation surprised the Musikants, but subsequently they recalled that the young man, a high school drop-out with no apparent interest in classical music, had once requested an opportunity to test his salesmanship skills. They agreed to consider him, but said he would have to pass the same test taken by all other employees.

When he took the test he was unable to name a single classical artist. (Because all prospective salespeople had to demonstrate a knowledge of artists and recordings by scoring at least 80 percent on a written test, most of the sales staff were conservatory students or graduates.) Since Holloway seemed so intent upon improving himself, the Musikants offered him one paid afternoon off each week for the purpose of studying and told him he could re-take the test at any time.


Aminu Ali Akimbo, Nigeria

After several months, he repeated the test, scoring 23 percent. The Musikants agreed that this was a significant improvement and encouraged him to keep studying, but reminded him that all sales personnel had to know 80 percent of the material.

During this time, We’ll Get Bach To You became involved in a controversy concerning its display window. The store had been decorated for Christmas and Chanukah, and prominent displays of recordings associated with the season had been arranged. When a neighborhood resident pointed out that the display took no notice of Kwanzaa, the Musikants explained that as yet there was no classical Kwanzaa music, and that the window had been planned with the idea of increasing seasonal sales of existing inventory.

This did not satisfy the neighbor, who filed a charge of cultural abrogation against them. Wishing to put an end to the matter as quickly as possible, the Musikants added a Kwanzaa display to the window and the charge was withdrawn. But the next day they received a directive from the Federal Dogma Tolerance Enforcement Agency (FDTEA) ordering the store closed immediately pending resolution of a complaint filed by the Upper West Side Alliance for Freedom from Religion, which protested the prominent placement of Bach’s Christmas Cantata in the show window.

Eager to reopen as quickly as possible at this most lucrative time of the year, the Musikants immediately moved the Christmas Cantata inside to a place where it could not be seen from the street, replaced it with a recording of the Brandenburg Concertos, and called the FDTEA to send a compliance monitor.

When the monitor saw the display, he commended them for having carried out the agency’s orders so quickly, and issued a certificate of compliance. The grateful Musikants, having lost only two days’ sales, re-opened the store, and, to entice shoppers, offered two recordings for the price of one. For a while it seemed they might be able to recoup their losses, but two days later, the FDTEA compliance monitor returned, citing a second complaint by the Upper West Side Alliance for Freedom from Religion, which claimed that while the Musikants appeared to have complied with the FDTEA directive, they actually persisted in violating their members’ right to freedom from religion, since everyone knew that Bach had been a highly religious composer.

Desperate to keep the store open, the Musikants offered to replace the Brandenburg concertos immediately with any recording of the compliance monitor’s choice. He agreed and, after an exhaustive perusal of their inventory, advised them that Vivaldi’s Four Seasons would probably be inoffensive. The Four Seasons replaced the Concertos in the show window and a second certificate was issued on the spot.

Three days later, however, the Musikants received another summons from the FDTEA ordering them to a hearing before an agency adjudicator to determine whether, at the time they consented to the replacement of the Concertos with the Four Seasons , they had been aware that Vivaldi was a priest. Since the summons was not accompanied by an order to close, they hastily removed the Four Seasons from the display and replaced it with The Rite of Spring.

The Musikants managed to break even for December despite the two-day closing. At the hearing they told the adjudicator that they had asked the agency’s own compliance monitor to choose the replacement for the Brandenburgs to prevent them from inadvertently contravening the agency’s wishes, and insisted that they had not known Vivaldi was a priest. However, their college transcripts revealed that both had received nearly perfect scores in music history, and when an inventory audit revealed that the fact of the composer’s priesthood was disclosed in the liner notes of one recording of a Vivaldi concerto, they were threatened with additional charges of obstructing the mission of a federal agency if they could not prove their ignorance.

The Musikants explained that on the day Vivaldi was discussed in music history they had become engaged and had cut class to celebrate. They also insisted that they would never read the liner notes of any recording sold in the store, as that would involve opening the wrapper. The FDTEA adjudicator promised a ruling within the month, and the Musikants went back to work. But before the decision came down they found themselves facing yet another threat.

Antonio Vivaldi

Antonio Vivaldi

The inventory audit carried out during the hearing had uncovered the fact that while the store’s inventory did include recordings by minority artists, 99.96 percent of the composers represented were of European background. Bound by the Uniform Federal Standards in Diversity Act, the FDTEA had shared its findings with the Federal Diversity Management Board (FDMB), which now demanded an exact accounting of the racial background of the artists represented in the store’s inventory. Because the order included a determination of the racial make-up of the various orchestras and chamber music groups whose recordings they sold, the Musikants had to hire a reference consultant and a mathematician.

When the audit proved that the racial character of the inventory was not representative of the country as a whole, the Musikants requested a hearing before an FDMB examiner. They reminded the examiner that We’ll Get Bach To You was a classical music store, specializing in music by classical composers, mostly dead white European males, although there were works by females as well, but that so far there was not much classical music by minority composers. They explained that they made it a point to showcase recordings by minority performers, and that whenever there were compositions by minority composers they promoted them as well.

The examiner said that while he understood the state of classical music in the United States, he had to enforce the standards mandated by the Uniform Federal Standards in Diversity Act, and gave them the choice of endowing a three million dollar fund for the training of classical composers from the inner city, or expanding their inventory to include music by minority composers and artists, whether or not it could be deemed “classical”. He reminded them that failure to comply would subject them to immediate forfeiture of the business and charges of cultural chauvinism.

Switched On Sebastian

Switched On Sebastian

Unable to endow a fund, the Musikants have agreed to set up a rap music section with Harris Holloway as its manager, in exchange for dismissal of all charges of cultural stereotyping against them. Lawyers for REEC have consented to allow Hollway to drop his complaint, even though making him manager of the rap section could open the door for a second charge of furthering a cultural stereotype if he later requests a position in the classical music section and does not get it. The Musikants also agree to continue Holloway’s paid afternoon off to further his classical studies.

While the FDTEA’s ruling on the obstruction charge is expected later this month, experts believe that it may be put on hold pending the results of the Musikants’s next three annual FDMB reviews.

In an interview today on New York’s Channel 99, Mr. Musikant, co-founder of New Yorkers for Sufficient Government, was asked whether his recent travails had undermined his confidence in the system.

“On the contrary,” he said. “I think this is a perfect example of what happens when good ideas mesh—we’ll have a job in management for Harris, which he wants, and my wife and I will not go to jail, which we want. We’ve been advised that we’ll have to change the name of the store to reflect its new diversity, so we’ve been fooling around with a few possibilities. What do you think of We’ll Get Rap Bach To You?”