Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Huron Carol

I've been listening a great deal to the Crash Test Dummies Christmas album, Jingle all the way..., and it's great. A Christmas carol I had never heard of ends the album, it's entitled The Huron Carol. The music is beautiful and the vocals of Ellen Reid with backup by lead singer Brad Roberts makes for an amazing melody that I had never heard before. The Huron Carol is a traditional Canadian Christmas hymn according to Wikipedia it was "...written in 1643 by Jean de Brébeuf, a Jesuit missionary at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons in Canada." He wrote the lyrics to a traditional French song in the native tongue of the Huron/Wendat people he was living with. Also, instead of using traditional Christian terminology to discuss the nativity, Brébeuf used imagery and words which would make sense to the people he was preaching. In the early 1900s, the lyrics were translated into English in 1926 by Jesse Edgar Middleton. The lyrics weren't so much translated as they were altered to use early 1900s imagery to discuss the nativity. The Crash Test Dummies used the 1926 lyrics, which is traditionally sung in Canada.

One of the striking aspects of the song, besides the imagery of Jesus wrapped in rabbits skin and pelts brought by the wise men, is the use of the traditional Algonquian name for God, Gitchi Manitou. If you are interested in a new Christmas carol that most Americans have never heard before, check out The Huron Carol. It's filled with an interesting history and a beautiful tune.

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