Thursday, December 20, 2012

American song: Huron Carol

One of the loveliest American carols also is perhaps the earliest: "Jesous Ahatonhia" in the Huron/Wendat language, "Twas in the Moon of Wintertime" in its adapted English version --- or simply "Huron Carol." It is very familiar in Canada, not so familiar in the United States.

The lyrics were written during 1643 in the Huron/Wendat language by Fr. Jean de Brebeuf, Jesuit missionary among Canada's First Nations people for nearly a quarter century, who set it to the tune of a French folk song.

The English lyrics, written in 1926 by Jesse Edgar Middleton, are based upon De Brebeuf's original but are not an exact translation. Middleton blended De Brebeuf's telling of the nativity story with Huron religious concepts, the Algonquian term for God, Gitchi Manitou, and imagery familiar to speakers of English. Jesus is born, for example, in a lodge of broken bark and wrapped in a robe of rabbit skin.

De Brebeuf was widely respected among the Huron, but not so much by the Iroquois, who dispatched him rather dramatically during March of 1649. He was canonized St. Jean de Brebouf in 1930 and now is considered one of Canada's patrons.

The carol is performed here by First Nations activist Tom Jackson. Jackson, widely known as actor, performer and activist in Canada, is little known in the more insular United States. This clip provides insights into his life and work.


A blizzard was forecast yesterday for the south of Iowa and a modest blizzard we have this early morning, atlhough the snow total down here so far is about an inch (rain turned to snow late). But the wind is roaring and much of that is in the air.

The threat of snow brings out the pioneer in us: Everyone drives to the grocery store. I went twice, in late morning for milk (always buy milk when a blizzard is predicted, whether you drink it or not) and in late afternoon for Windex. One would not want to be cut off by a storm without Windex --- and an adequate supply of paper towels.

Although the big Hy-Vee construction project has caused minimal disruption of traditional parking practices in the big lot, we behave as if it has. It was a dangerous place to be Wednesday.

Inside, folks who hadn't see each other for hours stood blocking traffic in narrowed aisles surrounded by sheets of black plastic speculating about how bad it was going to be. I may connect the front-step rail and the bird feeder ash tree with a rope just in case livestock needs feeding.

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