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The Huron Carol

The Huron Carol (also called Jesous Ahatonhia, Jesus is Born, and Noël Huron), is often considered to be the first Canadian Christmas carol. It is likely to have been written by the Jesuit missionary Jean de Brébeuf (1593-1649), who taught the song to the Hurons near Georgian Bay in about 1642 ([Herbermann 1913]). He was apparently casting religion in terms that his Huron flock could relate to, using “the Great Spirit” for Jesus and speaking of the Wise Men as three chiefs.

Brébeuf ministered to the Huron Indians for 22 years, until disaster struck in 1649. From the liner notes of ([Mills-A 1960]):

In 1649 an Iroquois war party invaded Huronia, killing or driving out all the Hurons, and destroying the missions. Refusing to leave their flock at St. Joseph, Fathers Brébeuf and lalement were captured and died at the stake after enduring many hours of savage torture.
 
Some of the Hurons escaped to Lorette, near Quebec City, and there their descendants live to this day. They did not forget Father Brébeuf's carol, and about 1750 another Jesuit, Father de Villeneuve, heard them singing it and wrote it down. Then it was translated into French under the title “Jesus est né” and it is still sung in that form in Quebec. In 1926, a Canadian poet, J. E. Middleton, wrote the English words, which have become widely known.

Here is an excerpt from a version performed by Alan Mills of ([Mills-A 1960]):

Audio Player disabled - visit Troubleshooting.

Excerpt from The Huron Carol - from Canada's Story in Song by Smithsonian Folkways ([Mills-A 1960]).

Canada's Story in Song

Backing Track for Native American Flute in E Minor

Gary Cope recorded a backing track for the melody that appeared on a limited-production CD-R of backing tracks ([Cope 2004]).

He graciously gave me permission to include his backing track on the on Jam Tracks in E Minor CD. Here's a recording of my overdub to that track, on an E minor Native American flute. I'm mostly following the lead sheet (below) the first time through, and gradually improvise over the core melody more and more each time through:

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This backing track (i.e. without my overdub) is available on Jam Tracks in E Minor.

Sheet Music - Six-hole Pentatonic Minor Tuned Flutes

The Huron Carol - six-hole Pentatonic Minor

The Huron Carol - Six-Hole Flutes - Pentatonic Minor Tuning Larger image

Sheet Music - Five-hole Pentatonic Minor Tuned Flutes

The Huron Carol - five-hole Pentatonic Minor

The Huron Carol - Five-Hole Flutes - Pentatonic Minor Tuning Larger image

Other Arrangements

Here are links to some other arrangements and trascriptions available on the Web:

 
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