The Huron Carol

The Huron Carol, by Father John de Brébeuf

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 wond’ring 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;
And 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 sons of Manitou,
The Holy Child of earth and heaven
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!”

*  “Gitchi Manitou” is the Algonquian word for “Great Spirit”

“When Father Étienne de Villeneuve died in 1794, among his papers was a Christmas carol written in the Huron (Wyandot) language and set to the traditional French tune “Une Jeune Pucelle” (“A Young Maid”).  For almost 150 years the song and its origins had been handed down through the oral tradition of the Huron-Wyandot people.  Though their population had been decimated and scattered, their remnants brought from the shores of Lake Huron to Loretto, Quebec, the Hurons carried the song and its history with them until it was rediscovered by the French.

Father John de Brébeuf, a member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuit), wrote the Huron lyrics and gave the song as a gift to the Huron-Wyandot nation while he lived with them between 1626 and 1649.  In 1649 Father de Brébeuf was captured, tortured and executed by the Iroquois who were enemies of the Huron.  He was canonized (recognized as a Saint) in 1930 and is one of the patron saints of Canada.

Almost 150 years after the French Canadians rediscovered the song and translated it into French, the English discovered the French version and translated it into English.  The most popular version was written by Jesse Edgar Middleton in 1926, which became public domain in 2011.”

Taken from: “Diversity Tree: Addressing Diversity, Engaging Peace.

About R.H. (Rusty) Foerger

As I enter the third third of life, I am becoming aware of the role of elders today “to enlarge spiritual vision, being devoted to prayer, living in the face of death, as a living curriculum of the Christian life” (Dr. James M. Houston). I am a life long and life wide learner who seeks to: *decipher the enigma of our worth *rescue from the agony of prayerlessness *integrate spiritual friendship.
This entry was posted in Poems, Prayers and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Huron Carol

  1. Interesting post. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mandibelle16 says:

    I love this version. I was in choir in elementary school & we sang the original version in grade 3 or 4. The adapted version (a more modernized and Christiansen vefsion( I later realized we sang in our hymnal at church. Beautiful version you shared with audio!

    Liked by 1 person

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