Saturday, December 13, 2014

CAROL : the huron carol

Sing unto the Lord a new song, 
and his praise from the end of the earth



Though I learned this Christmas song first in the version shown below ('Twas in the moon of wintertime, when all the birds had fled, that mighty Gitchee Manitou sent angel choirs instead . . . a version I still love, especially as sung in Tom Jackson's deep gravelly voice), I have to say that the version above by Heather Dale simply knocks me out.  I love the underlying percussion of the refrain, Iesus Ahattonnia!  And the power of these lyrics make the English version I first learned seem to pale.

 Lyrics courtesy of sabledragonrook:
Ehstehn yayau deh tsaun we yisus ahattonnia
Have courage, you who are humans; Jesus, he is born.
O na wateh wado:kwi nonnwa 'ndasqua entai
Behold, the spirit who had us as prisoners has fled.
Ehnau sherskwa trivota nonnwa 'ndi yaun rashata
Do not listen to it, as it corrupts the spirits of our minds!
Iesus Ahattonnia, Ahattonnia, Iesus Ahattonnia.
Jesus, he is born, he is born, Jesus, he is born.

Ayoki onki hm-ashe eran yayeh raunnaun
They are spirits, sky people, coming with a message for us.
Yauntaun kanntatya hm-deh 'ndyaun sehnsatoa ronnyaun
They are coming to say, "Rejoice (Be on top of life),
Waria hnawakweh tond Yosehf sataunn haronnyaun
Marie, she has just given birth. Rejoice!"
Iesus Ahattonnia, Ahattonnia, Iesus Ahattonnia.
Jesus, he is born, he is born, Jesus, he is born.

Chrétiens, prenez courage, Jésus Sauveur est né!
Christians, take heart, Jesus the Savior is born!
Du malin les ouvrages à jamais sont ruinés.
Evil is destroyed forever.
Quand il chante merveille à ces troublants âppats
When the beautiful but deceitful singing lures you,
Ne prêtez plus l'oreille: Jésus est né. Jesous ahatonhia.
Do not pay attention: [remember] Jesus was born! Jesus, he is born.

Oyez cette nouvelle, dont un ange est porteur!
Hear the news carried by an angel
Oyez! Âmes fidèles, et dilatez vos coeurs.
Hear! faithful souls, enlarge your hearts.
La Vierge dans l'étable entoure de ses bras
The virgin in the stable has her arms around
L'Enfant-Dieu adorable: Jésus est né. Jesous ahatonhia.
The adorable baby God: Jesus was born. Jesus, he is born! 
Let Christian men take heart today
The devil's rule is done;
Let no man heed the devil more,
For Jesus Christ is come
But hear ye all what angels sing:
How Mary Maid bore Jesus King.
Iesus Ahattonnia, Jesus is born, Iesus Ahattonnia.

Three chieftains saw before Noel
A star as bright as day,
"So fair a sign," the chieftains said,
"Shall lead us where it may."
For Jesu told the chieftains three:
"The star will bring you here to me."
Iesus Ahattonnia, Jesus is born, Iesus Ahattonnia.
A song like this, still bearing the marks of the early French missionaries evangelism to the Huron people, raises questions though.  Can the celebration of the birth of Christ be a gathering and culmination of the deepest truth of all cultures?

I always believed so.  I believe so still.

But unless I reach back, far far into a long forgotten Viking and Celtic past, I can't speak as a native voice with a culture to defend.  My lone Abenaki great+grandmother does not seem to entitle me to make any convincing case.  So the final word has to come from Tom Jackson, half Cree, half English.  He has chosen this carol to name the 27 year-old fundraising Christmas concert, the Huron Carole, to raise money for the food banks of Canada. 


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