feast of the epiphanyThe season after 6th January is known as Epiphany, when the Church continues to celebrate Christmas, with an emphasis upon the place of the three wise men, the Magi, who represent all nations. That is, the Christ child came for all peoples, not just his own people in his own time.

It seems fitting, then, to conclude the series on carols with the Huron carol. This is a Canadian carol, written in the sixteenth century, coming out of the indigenous community, and set to a French folk tune which many find stirs profoundly, and yet is simple enough a range for even the most modest singer to feel confident with it.

The lyrics reflect the community from which the carol emerged: Jesus is born in a “lodge of broken bark”, and wrapped in a “robe of rabbit skin”. He is surrounded by hunters instead of shepherds, and the Magi are portrayed as “chiefs from afar” that bring him “fox and beaver pelts” instead of the more familiar gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The Huron carol

‘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:
“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
Enwrapp’d 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 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.
“Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria.”

Rev’d Louise Grace

If you missed any of Louise’s series on Advent carols, you’ll find them here.

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