‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime

The painting “Winter in the Valley of the Mohawk” courtesy of L. F. Tantillo

The oldest Christmas carol written in North America is believed to be ‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime. Jesuit missionary Jean de Brebeuf wrote the carol, somewhere around 1643, while at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons. He wrote the carol for early Catholic converts within the Huron Confederacy to explain the Christmas story with characters they could better understand. In 1926, J. E. Middleton translated the hymn into English, which is based on the music of the French Canadian melody Jesous Ahatonhia. As the Wyandotte Nation celebrates Christmas, acknowledging the birth of Jesus Christ, we would like to share the words of this hymn for everyone’s inspiration.

‘Twas in the moon of wintertime
When all the birds had fled
That mighty Gitchi Manitou
Sent angel choirs instead
Before their light the stars grew dim
And wond’ring hunters heard the hymn:

Jesus, your King, is born;
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
And as the hunter braves drew nigh,
The angel song rang loud and high:

Jesus, your King, is born;
Jesus is born!
In excelsis gloria!

O children of the forest free,
O songs of Manitou
The Holy Child of earth and heav’n
Is born today for you
Come kneel before the radiant Boy
Who brings you beauty, peace and joy:

Jesus, your King, is born;
Jesus is born!
In excelsis gloria!

Comments are closed.