Monday, October 19, 2009

St. John de Brebeuf

In case you ever wondered how one ought to honor a Divine infant if you are a Huron Indian, St. John de Brebeuf (whose feast day is today) had a few ideas. He was a Jesuit missionary who lived among them about four hundred years ago.

Though he did not even remotely consider himself to be linguistically talented, he composed a dictionary of the Huron Language, a list of rules of etiquette for dealing with them, and most memorably, a beautiful little Christmas carol, known as the "Huron Carol."

It has been translated to English and is quite lovely as such, but in its original Huron the language is even more gripping.

De Brebeuf wrote it while he was recovering from a broken collarbone. If you are interested in hearing it sung in the Huron, I have only found one source for it. Canadian folk-singer Bruce Cockburn has a version I really love. Other than changing the rhythm somewhat, it is the same melody as the English version.

Check out his "Christmas" album, this song is a gem and worth the price.

Here is the same song with its more familiar English lyrics:

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