Having arrived in New France in 1615, the early Roman Catholic missionaries proceeded to establish a presence near Midland, Ontario. They translated new and traditional religious texts into native languages, often adding musical accompaniment. One such worknow popularly known as the first Canadian Christmas carolis The Huron Carol, or Jesous Ahatonhia (Jesus is Born). This composition is widely believed to have been adapted from a 16th century folk song Une jeune pucelle (The Young Flea) in the mid-1600s for the Hurons at Ste. Marie, by the Jesuit missionary Jean de Brébeuf.
Although part of an oral tradition for almost 100 years, it was not until the 18th century that the music was written down by Fr. de Villeneuve, a Jesuit priest. First published in Noëls anciens de la Nouvelle-France in 1907 by Ernest Myrand, it has since been variously adapted for voice, piano, choir, and orchestra by such Canadian composers as Barrie Cabena, Claude Champagne, and Healey Willan. The carol is the subject of the 1977 Canadian postage stamp Christmas series and an NFB filmstrip: Huron Indian Christmas Carol.
The Huron Carol is familiar in the minds of many as Christmas music of identifiably Canadian origin. WilsonÕs arrangement is a colourful addition to band repertoire for the festive season.
Notes on The Huron Carol
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