Friday, December 30, 2011

Obscure Carols: The Huron Carol

"The Huron Carol" is a new carol to me, courtesy of Facebook friend Jeffrey "The Aslan."

Here's some bullet points from the Wiki article:
  • Canada's oldest Christmas song
  • Written in 1643 by Jean de Brébeuf
  • Brébeuf was a Jesuit missionary at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons in Canada
  • Lyrics were in the native language of the Huron/Wendat people
  • Original Huron title is "Jesous Ahatonhia" ("Jesus, he is born")
  • Melody based on a traditional French folk song, "Une Jeune Pucelle" ("A Young Maid")
  • English lyrics were written in 1926 by Jesse Edgar Middleton
  • English lyrics derived from Brebeuf's original song and Huron religious concepts
  • The hymn also uses a traditional Algonquian name, Gitchi Manitou, for God. 
  • The song remains a common Christmas hymn in Canadian churches of many Christian denomination
So there's the interesting one to me. My parents live in Michigan just south of the Huron National Forest. I had never heard of it before this year.  I guess I thought this one would have drifted into Michigan along with Canadian coins.

So here's a video followed by the English lyrics. As I was writing this morning, I couldn't find the original tongue. If you know them, feel free to drop them in the comments.  Finally, look for concepts that may be from the Huron tribe instead in lieu of the biblical account.



’Twas in the moon of wintertime,
When all the birds had fled,
That mighty Gitchi Manitou
Sent angel choirs instead;
Before their light the stars grew dim,
And wondering hunters heard the hymn:

 Jesus your King is born,
Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria.

Within a lodge of broken bark
The tender babe was found,
A ragged robe of rabbit skin
Enwrapped His beauty round;
But as the hunter braves drew nigh,
The angel song rang loud and high:

 Jesus your King is born,
Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria.

The earliest moon of wintertime
Is not so round and fair
As was the ring of glory on
The helpless Infant there.
The chiefs from far before Him knelt
With gifts of fox and beaver pelt.  

Jesus your King is born,
Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria.

O children of the forest free,
O seed of Manitou,
The holy Child of earth and Heav’n
Is born today for you.
Come kneel before the radiant Boy,
Who brings you beauty, peace and joy.

 Jesus your King is born,
Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria.

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