Beautiful French-Canadian Folk Song and Game: La petite hirondelle

children playing passera
I recently discovered this treasure: “La petite hirondelle”! It’s a French-Canadian folk song and dance, similar to “London Bridge”, but instead of a bridge falling down, the theme is a naughty swallow who has stolen our wheat and must be punished!

“Qu’est-ce qu’elle a donc fait,
la petite hirondelle
Elle nous a voler
Trois petits grains de ble
Nous l’attrapperons,
la petite hirondelle
Nous lui donnerons
Trois petits coup d’baton

Pass, pass, passera,
la derniere, la derniere
Pass, pass, passera,
la derniere restera!

    Translation

What has she done,
the little swallow?
She has stolen from us
three grains of wheat!

We catch her,
the little swallow,
and we give her
three strikes with a baton!

Pass, pass, pass through,
the last one, the last one,
pass, pass, pass through,
the last one stays!

In the dance, as you can see in the video, the children pass under the joined hands of the adults (or other children) until the last line of the chorus. Then the last swallow is caught, and put in the center of the dance. Finally she is “punished” – the others tap her on the head (GENTLY) to represent the strikes of the baton.

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