Monday, December 8, 2008

The Huron Carol

The Huron Carol is considered to be the first Canadian Christmas carol was written in 1643, by Father Saint Jean de Brebeuf. It was intended to be a teaching aid for the Huron people to help communicate the unfamiliar images in the Christmas story.

Brebeuf was a Jesuit missionary and linguist stationed at Ste. Marie. The carol was originally written in the Huron language; it was at some point in time, translated into French. J. E. Middleton translated the carol into English in 1926, from the French translation and gave it a new name. It is not an exact translation of either the French or Huron versions.

But many people feel that even when all the translation difficulties are taken into consideration, The Huron Carol or Twas In The Moon Of Winter Time does not lose Brebeuf's message.

The music is known as Jesous Ahatonhia and is based on a 16th century French Canadian melody. On his Christmas CD 1993, Bruce Cockburn sings a haunting version of the carol in the original Huron language. And singer/actor Tom Jackson used the song as the centre piece of his Christmas shows raising money for the Canadian Associate of Food Banks (raising almost 4 million dollars).

Brebeuf lost his life March 16, 1649, during the Iroquois uprising of 1648/1650, when he was captured and slain by the Iroquois. On June 29 1930 Brebeuf was canonized by Pope Pius XI.

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