The Huron Carol – Canada’s First Christmas Carol

The Huron Carol - Canada's First Carol - QuietWorkings

The Huron Carol

Although I am in no way leaning towards another religion, the fact that a Jesuit priest wrote the original words to this song has no bearing on the fact that it created a way for the Huron people to understand the incarnation of Christ.

This song has so much history attached to it, and I often wish Canadians could get a true understanding of their history through the actions and feelings of the ones who comprise it.

Often known as “Twas In the Moon of WinterTime,” the modern translation of this song bears little resemblance to the original Wyandot (Huron) words by Jean de Brebeuf.   The song was written during a tumultuous period of history for Canadian natives.  The Iroquois and Huron were at war.  Although the French were at peace with the Iroquois, Father Jean de Brebeuf went to the Huron tribes to try and create peace between them and the French.  At the same time he wanted to share the beauty of Christ’s coming to earth with them.  After many years of working with the tribe, spending time back in France, and then coming back to the Midland are of Ontario to work with the Huron again, Jean de Brebeuf was captured by the Iroquois and died a tragic death.

The original carol was written around 1643.  In 1794, another Jesuit missionary, Father de Villeneuve wrote down the words as he understood them and an Indian notary, Paul Picard, translated them into French.

Many years later, a reporter in Quebec, Jesse Edgar Middleton, adapted the words to the song that we now recognize and it was published in 1926.  However, many people find the new words to be somewhat offensive as they take the birth of Christ and apply native characteristics to it.

To me, the original words (translated to English) hold much more to them, even if they don’t fit the current tune.

Have courage, you who are humans; Jesus, he is born
Behold, the spirit who had us as prisoners has fled
Do not listen to it, as it corrupts the spirits of our minds
Jesus, he is born
They are spirits, sky people, coming with a message for us
They are coming to say, “Rejoice (Be on top of life)”
Marie, she has just given birth. Rejoice”
Jesus, he is born
 Three have left for such, those who are elders
          Tichion, a star that has just appeared on the horizon leads them there
 He will seize the path, he who leads them there
 Jesus, he is born
As they arrived there, where he was born, Jesus
the star was at the point of stopping, not far past it
Having found someone for them, he says, “Come here!”
Jesus, he is born
Behold, they have arrived there and have seen Jesus,
They praised (made a name) many times, sahying “Hurray, he is good in nature”
They greeted him with reverence (greased his scalp many times), saying ‘Hurray’
Jesus, he is born
“We will give to him praise for his name,
Let us show reverence for him as he comes to be compassionate to us.
It is providential that you love us and wish, ‘I should adopt them.'”
Jesus, he is born.
1. “History of Hymns: Twas In the Moon of Wintertime”, United Methodist Church, C. Michael Hawn,
2. “Huron Carol Racist?”, Diversity Tree, Andrea Shalay, December 30, 2011,
3. “They Huron Carol”, Lyrics and translation,

Amanda Cunningham

Amanda worked as a full-time school teacher for two years before getting married and having three wonderful kids.She blogs about faith, family, food, and fun.While crafting takes up a lot of her extra time, Amanda also strives to help others through ministry in her church and in the community.Amanda, also known as Mae, works as the church music director and homeschools two of her three children

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