Jesous Ahatonhia

'Jesous Ahatonhia' ('Jesus Is Born') or 'Noël Huron'. First Canadian Christmas carol.

'Jesous Ahatonhia'

'Jesous Ahatonhia' ('Jesus Is Born') or 'Noël Huron'. First Canadian Christmas carol. Though widely believed to have been written by the Jesuit missionary Jean de Brébeuf (1593-1649), who taught the song to the Hurons near Georgian Bay ca 1642, it is not known whether the verses of 'Jesous Ahatonhia' were written to fit the melody (apparently derived from the 16th-century French song 'Une Jeune Pucelle') with which they have come to be associated. Unrecorded for 100 years, the carol was collected from the Hurons by Father de Villeneuve, a Jesuit stationed 1747-94 at Lorette, Que, and the words were translated from the original Huron into French by Paul Picard, an Indian notary at Quebec City. This version was published in Ernest Myrand'sNoëls anciens de la Nouvelle-France (Quebec 1907; repr in CMH vol 2). An English-language version by Jesse Edgar Middleton was adapted for voice and piano by Healey Willan (B424, Harris ca 1927) as part of the pageant Brébeuf (B29) and later was expanded for choir (B439, Harris ca 1954). The version in Songs for Worship (Religious Education Council of Canada 1930) was also Willan's. A third version, composed by Barrie Cabena, was published in the Hymn Book (Anglican Church and United Church 1971). There is also an arrangement (1929) by Champagne - 'Estenniaton de tsouvé' - for SATB and piano or orchestra (manuscript) and one by Richard Johnston for TTBB and piano (Waterloo 1953). Champagne also used the Huron text of the carol in his Altitude (1959). Notable recordings include the Toronto Consort's version using the original Huron text (1984, Collegium Records COLK-8304) and Métis singer Tom Jackson's (Winnipeg Harvest unnumbered cassette). Choral versions include interpretations by the Mennonite Children's Choir (CBC SM-171), the Armdale Chorus (London NA-3507, Oriana Singers (Toronto) (HO 100) the Toronto Children's Chorus (TCC D-002) and the Boys' Choir of Toronto (BC 101). Eric Robertson'sPrelude on the Huron Carol has been recorded by Liona Boyd (CBS FM-37248).The 1977 Canadian postage stamp Christmas series illustrated the theme of the carol.