On A Different Note...

Staying true to my blog's title, Scattered Joys, today I'm jumping from Schweddy Balls to Martyred Saints.  Yes, you read that right - Martyred Saints.  Just bear with me and you'll eventually see the common thread.

But before we get there, you'll need a short refresher in Canadian history.  I'll try to be brief.  Here goes:

Jean de Brebeuf was a Jesuit Priest who lived among the Huron natives in a fortified village near the shore of Georgian Bay near what is now the town of Midland.  Between the years 1644 and 1648, Brebeuf worked diligently - yet with little success - to convert the Hurons to Christianity.  He was a large man with great physical strength who possessed a kind and gentle heart and had great affection for the Huron people, and they for him.  They affectionately called him 'Echon' (Healing Tree) in reference to his size and because he used what knowledge and medicine was available to him to nurse the people through their illnesses - remember, this was a time when viruses for which the native people had no immunity were spreading as quickly as the fur trade. 

Brebeuf wrote detailed accounts of his time among the Huron, and his writing is full of amusing anecdotes of the Huron children.  It was obvious he was fond of the children, and they were equally fond of him, often following him around and laughing at his attempts to speak their language. 

In 1648, it all came to a tragic end when the warring Iroquois attacked the Huron village and burnt it to the ground.  Brebeuf was captured and tortured to death.  The Iroquois made a fellow Jesuit witness the tragic event in order that their ferociousness would be recounted.  I'll spare you the details.

In 1930, Brebeuf was canonized and was declared the Patron Saint of Canada.  His bones rest in the Church of St. Joseph at the reconstructed native village, Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons, and The Martyr Shrine in Midland was built in his honour.  Also surviving - and I'm finally getting to the point of this blog - is a Christmas carol Brebeuf wrote for the Huron children in an attempt to give an indigenous interpretation of the nativity.  The carol, written in Algonquin (the language of the Huron) has been translated into English and French.  Below is a beautiful, haunting rendition.  The first verse is sung in Algonquin, the second in French, and the final verse in English  - enjoy!

The Huron Carol ('Twas In The Moon of Winter Time)

'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 wondering 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
But 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 seed 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.

No comments:

Post a Comment