Thursday, December 23, 2004

'Twas in the Moon of Wintertime

Isn't it odd that at Christmas we celebrate the birth of a Palestinian Jew, in Roman occupied territory. Our traditions grow out of old Europe and often reflect our pre-Christian, Pagan, ancestors. This Christmas carol dates from the 16th and 17th centuries, and was written by a French missionary to the First Peoples of eastern Canada and New York. He was later killed by the peoples he was preaching to and has been canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. I believe he as a good man who meant well.

'Twas in the moon of wintertime,
when all the birds had fled,
that mighty Gitchi Manitousent angel choirs instead;
Before their light the stars grew dim,
and wondering hunters heard the hymn:
Jesus Emmanuel, Jesus is born,in excelsis gloria.

Within a lodge of broken bark
the tender babe was found;
a ragged robe of rabbit skin
enwrapped his beauty round;
But as the hunter braves drew nigh,
the angel song rang loud and high:
Jesus Emmanuel, 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 Emmanuel, Jesus is born,in excelsis gloria.

O children of the forest free,
O seed of Manitou,
the holy Child of earth and heaven
is born today for you.Come kneel before the radiant Child,
who brings you beauty, peace, so mild.
Jesus Emmanuel, Jesus is born,in excelsis gloria.

Music: Une Jeune Pucelle French folk melody (16th C); harm. Jonathan McNair (20th C)Words: St. Jean de Br├ębeuf (17th C); trans. Jesse Edgar Middleton (20th C)

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