Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Huron Carol



Note: After playing this version, scan the queue at the bottom of the screen for another rendering by The Elora Festival Singers. A totally different style of the old Canadian hymn by Father Jean de Brebeuf (1643), one of the martyrs of Huronia.

"The warfare escalated as Iroquois war parties came north into Huronia. The Jesuits who were friends of the Hurons became victims of this war. In 1646 Fr. Jougues and two lay helpers, René Goupil and Jean de la Lande, died at Auriesville. Then on July, 1648, Fr. Antoine Daniel was killed near Teanaostaiae. In March 1649 Fr. Jean de Brébeuf and Fr. Charles Lalemant were martyred at St. Ignace, a Huron village near Ste. Marie. That year Fathers Charles Garnier and Noel Chabanel were killed in Petun country.

In 1649 the remaining Jesuits had to abandon Ste Marie. Along with several hundred Hurons they retreated north to Christian Island in Georgian Bay. The following year the French missionaries and a few Huron helpers made the long journey east to Lorette, near Quebec city. (Montreal at this time was the little settlement of Ville-Marie.)

In 1940 these eight men were officially recognized as martyrs and canonized as saints by the pope in Rome. The Martyrs’ Shrine which includes a stone church can be visited outside Midland, Ontario.

The lives and deaths of these early European settlers in Canada have had a significant impact on the imagination of artists and writers. (E.J. Pratt narrative poem "Brebeuf and his Brethren")

Father Jean de Brébeuf composed the first Christmas carol in Canada (circa 1641). It was written in French and in the Huron language which was transcribed by sound in the following manner:

Jesous ahatonhia

Estennialon de tsonwe
Jesous ahatonhia
Onnawatewa d’oki
n'onwandaskwaentak
Ennonchien skwatrihotat
n'onwandilonrachatha
"

(http://www2.athabascau.ca/cll/writers/english/writers/jrelations/martyrs.php)

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