Patapan (or Pat-a-pan) is a French Christmas carol by Bernard de la Monnoye (1641-1728). It was first published in a set of thirteen carols collectively known as Noël bourguignon with simple lyrics in the composer’s native Burgundy dialect.
Monnoye’s carols became immensely popular and the cheerful and rhythmic Patapan is the best known. The carol tells the story of the birth of Jesus from the perspective of the visiting shepherds who play on flutes and drums. Employing some clever onomatopoeia the word Patapan is heard repetitively and mimics the sound of the beating drum whilst the accompanying lyric tu-re-lu-re-lu depicts the flute.
See if you can spot a couple of fleeting references to other carols?