J'ai cueilli la belle rose

'J'ai cueilli la belle rose'. A 16th-century manuscript in France provides the oldest likely origin of this dance song, introduced to Canada in the 17th century.

'J'ai cueilli la belle rose'

'J'ai cueilli la belle rose'. A 16th-century manuscript in France provides the oldest likely origin of this dance song, introduced to Canada in the 17th century. In the text published by Ernest Gagnon in Chansons populaires du Canada (Quebec City 1865) a beautiful girl picks a rose to take to her father 'between Paris and Rouen'. (The name of the towns varied depending on where the song was sung.) At the end of her journey, however, the young girl finds only a nightingale who advises her to marry. A suitor then offers her 600 pounds a year. In Romancero du Canada (Toronto 1937), Marius Barbeau notes two additional verses which explain this generous offer: 'Et vous n'aurez rien à faire, que mon petit lit de camp; À le faire et le défaire, vous et moi couch'rons dedans' ('And you will have nothing to do, but to make my little campbed; to make it and undo it, you and I will sleep in it'). In his Catalogue de la chanson folklorique française Conrad Laforte refers to two other titles, 'J'ai cueilli la rose rose' and 'Épousez-moi d'abord'. The tune exists in several versions. Choral arrangements were made by Maurice Blackburn in 1949 and by Richard Johnston (Waterloo 1974). The song has been recorded for LPs by Pierre Boutet (Victor LCP-1021, Victor PC-1149) and by the Ensemble vocal Katimavik (SNE 502).


Further Reading

  • Bélanger, Jeannine, and Barbeau, Marius. 'La césure épique dans nos chansons populaires,' Archives de folklore, vol 1, Montreal 1946