Era Inducted To: Pioneer Era
Written In:circa 1640
Lyricist(s):Jean de Brébeuf, Jesuit priest and patron saint of Canada
Also known as ‘Twas in the Moon of Winter Time, this song is considered to be the first Canadian carol. Originally taken from the Huron language and set to the melody of a 16th century French carol, it tells the story of the Nativity using symbols and figures readily understood by the Huron Indians – God as the Great Spirit and the Wisemen as Chiefs. Transmitting orally, the carol was passed down by the Hurons until 1649 when the warring Iroquois brutally tortured Father Brébeuf to death and drove the Hurons from their home near Midland, Ontario to Lorette, Quebec. A century later, another Jesuit priest, Father de Villeneuve, committed the song to paper in Huron. An Indian notary, Paul Picard, translated it into French. In 1926, Canadian poet Jesse Edgar Middleton wrote an English version to fit the melody rather than translate it directly. The song was included in the Methodist Hymnal and later in the Hymn Books of the Anglican and United Churches of Canada.
Cover Artists Include: Tom Jackson, Bruce Cockburn, Liona Boyd, The Canadian Brass, and the Elmer Iseler Singers