Archive for December 14th, 2021

A carol I did not grow up listening to at Christmas time is the oldest known to have been written in Canada (1642). It was written by a Jesuit missionary, Jean de Brébeuf, who wrote it in the language of the Huron/Wendat people of the area on the North Shore of Lake Ontario. Brébeuf immersed himself in the learning of the language, the culture and the spiritual practises of the Iroquois people.

His life’s end came when captured and killed, after the smallpox epidemic claimed so many of these First Nations peoples. Though he and another priest were tortured and killed, so were those of the Huron nation who had followed in the waters of baptism.

A Huron Carol, like his learning of the local language, was to give cultural context to the Christmas story for these people. It was, I think, an expression of love and respect for them. Isn’t this how we explain Christ and the Christmas story to all who do not know? We make it relevant, we show the fruit that is available to taste … in a way that the listener might hear and understand.

No one sings this carol better than Tom Jackson, of the Cree First Nations Band, in Saskatchewan.

My favourite line from the Huron Carole is

The Holy Child of earth and heav’n
Is born today for you

because the power in helping others is to know the power of the gift and to understand we do not know whether or not the child we are helping is “The Child”… peace tom j.”

The Huron Carole

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 wandering hunters

Heard the hymn

Jesus, your King is born

Jesus is born

In excelis 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 high

The angel song rang loud and high


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


O children of the forest free

O sons 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



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