The Catholic Defender: St. John de Brebeuf Christmas Carol in the Huron Language.
What is regarded as the first American Christmas Carol was written from the Indian Nation Huron language. Jesuit Father St. John de Brebeuf was one of the eight North American Martyrs. As early as 1625, Fr. Brebeuf spent most of his missionary work among the Hurons primarily in Quebec. He became adapted to the Huron language and written a number of writings that have been preserved to this day.
Because of the missionary activity among the Hurons, there were many converts to the Catholic faith from within their tribe. Fr. Brebeuf took an old French folk song and changed the words giving it a Christmas message written in the Huron language:
Title Jesous Ahatonhia ("Jesus, he is born"),
1. 'Twas in the moon of winter-time When all the birds had fled, That mighty Gitchi Manitou Sent angel choirs instead; Before their light the stars grew dim, And wandering hunter heard the hymn:
Refrain: "Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, In excelsis gloria."
2. Within a lodge of broken bark The tender Babe was found, A ragged robe of rabbit skin Enwrapp'd His beauty round; But as the hunter braves drew nigh, The angel song rang loud and high. Refrain
3. O children of the forest free, O sons 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. Refrain
(Gitchi Manitou is the great creator god of the Anishinaabe and many neighboring Algonquian tribes. The name literally means Great Spirit, a common phrase used to address God in many Native American cultures.)
Taking the French tune, “Une Jeune Pucelle”, Fr. Brebeuf wrote this Christmas Carol while recovering from a broken collar bone in 1642. Not only is this a gift to the people he served in his time, we have it today in our time.
Notice like St. Paul reaching the Greeks through their unknown god , Fr. Brebeuf utilized part of what the Indians could understand and gave a clearer picture of who God the Father was in their language. He identified Jesus as His Son.
Fr. Brebeuf worked among the Hurons for 22 years when on March 16, 1649 was captured when a enemy band of Iroquois attacked Huron villages. The Iroquois were a fierce animistic influenced tribe who actively sought out the "Black Robes" whom they believed were responsible for bringing plaques against their crops because of their religious items.
The courage that Fr. Brebeuf displayed in the midst of extreme torture, his main concern was over his brother missionaries and Huron converts. They took boiling hot water dumping it on his head which was the Iroquois way they mocked Baptism. The Iroquois believed that through the suffering of their captives, they would receive their strength. As part of the animistic ritual, they drank Fr. Brebeuf's blood and ate his heart, but they could not take that Christmas spirit from him.
Notice the Rosary on Fr. Brebeuf's left side at the waste? This is a clear example that the Rosary is a spiritual sword. Traditionally, the knight would have their swords on the left side as they would unsheathe their sword with the right hand. what a great weapon against the kingdom of darkness.
Fr. Brebeuf was Beatified in 1925 and Canonized in 1930.
A lot has happened since those early days when the Jesuit Missionaries from France reached out to the Indian Nations with the Gospel. My Mother passed away 1 August 2006 just before I was to deploy with the 2-5 Cavalry to Iraq for what would be a 15 month deployment.
I was on leave and on the final day of my leave, my wife and I was just leaving for Fort Hood Texas when we received the news something was going on with my Mother.
I drove back to the farm and ran into Mom’s bedroom. She was not breathing (agonal respirations) normal and she obviously was in a coma state.
I quickly began doing rescue breathing 1 breath every 5 seconds. My wife, Gigi was listening to the breath sounds as we worked together to keep oxygen going through her. She had a pulse at the time so I didn’t need to do CPR.
As I was doing the rescue breathing for her, we called for the Ambulance to come and get her. I was praying the Rosary then the Divine Mercy Chaplet as we worked on Mom.
Finally, we got her to the hospital and I called Father who came and anointed her with the Anointing of the Sick. Mom would pass early in the morning after my Brother and I had prayed the rosary together for her.
I received an extension on my leave as we had a week before the funeral. People were coming from miles around to honor my Mother. Many were family Members of the Kickapoo and Potawatomi Indians from Horton Kansas Reservation, Oklahoma, and Missouri. Several camped out all over the farm and celebrated some of the Indian rituals.
My Brother was concerned that I might try to preach to them so we made a pact that these people were here to honor Mom. She was getting a Catholic funeral, with some of the honor friends and family gave her. On the night before the funeral, the Indians set up a large set of tables and held a feast. They honored my wife letting her sit in Mom’s place and they gave her Mom’s blanket.
After this, everyone got into a large circle when an Indian drummer and singer sang Indian songs for a few minutes. My Brother began to tell stories of Mom as we remembered her life. Then he began singing a Johnny Cash song which led to people singing what ever came to mind.
I went and grabbed Gigi’s auto harp when she saw me. She motioned me to not bring that out but it was too late.
The Indians saw me with it and implored her to sing. She began singing some of the show tunes she sang competing for Miss America. Then one Indian asked her if she could sing a Gospel song. Gigi sang “How great thou Art” and everyone loved it. They asked for more. She sang for a good half hour and I was so proud of her.
Gigi did more to reach them through the sweetness of her voice and the power of the song than I could by preaching to them. My Brother was right on this one! Gigi would sing a song at the funeral Mass for Mom her favorite song by Elvis Presley “The Miracle of the Rosary”.
This touched everyone at Mass to include those not Catholic. It is a great blessing to me when we get together with others and sing songs of the faith. Today, we need to pray for America as that ancient Paganism is seeking to make a return to America.
Unique live version