Item #1335 Jesous Ahatonhia; The First Canadian Christmas Carol. Jean de Brébreuf.
Jesous Ahatonhia; The First Canadian Christmas Carol
Jesous Ahatonhia; The First Canadian Christmas Carol
Jesous Ahatonhia; The First Canadian Christmas Carol
Jesous Ahatonhia; The First Canadian Christmas Carol
Jesous Ahatonhia; The First Canadian Christmas Carol

Jesous Ahatonhia; The First Canadian Christmas Carol

Toronto: Rous & Mann, 1927. Tall octavo (9 1/2 inches tall), side-stitched in original gilt-flecked green paper boards, white cloth spine, illustrated mounted paper label. Interiors fine, slight wear to corners and edges, mild toning to front board (not affecting label), tiny scrape to rear board. A near-fine copy. Item #1335

"WITHIN A LODGE OF BROKEN BARK / THE TENDER BABE WAS FOUND"

First edition of Jesous Ahatonhia ("Jesus, He is Born")—the first English adaptation of the Huron Christmas Carol composed by (then Blessed) Father Jean de Brébeuf in 1641. A beautifully illustrated Gift Edition of the "Huron Carol" (or "Twas in the Moon of Wintertime"), now understood as the oldest Canadian Christmas Carol. Scarce.

"St. Jean de Brébeuf is a giant of Canadian history. His writings in the Jesuit Relations, for example, offer an invaluable window into life in 17th-century Canada, while his gift for languages, which prompted him to create the first Huron dictionary, earn him the label of Canada’s first ethnographer. Brébeuf’s impact on the Canadian experience looms large; he is credited with everything from coining the term 'lacrosse' to penning the lyrics of The Huron Carol, a Canadian Christmas classic" (Catherine Mulroney). Composed to a traditional French melody by the Jesuit missionary in 1641, Jesous Ahatonhia became a symbol of Canada's triple heritage after the English lyrics were written by Jesse Edgar Middleton in 1926. Derived from Brébeuf's original song and Huron religious concepts, the.English version speaks of the Nativity of Jesus in a "lodge of broken bark." Wrapped in a "robe of rabbit skin," the Christ child is surrounded by hunters instead of shepherds, and the Magi (portrayed as "chiefs from afar") bring Him "fox and beaver pelts" instead of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Designed and illustrated by Stanley F. Turner, this edition was printed in Toronto shortly Middleton's adaptation. The verses are appended with a footnote: "the Interpretation by Mr. Middleton is not a translation, it was written to provide English-speaking Canadians with an opportunity to sing the first Christmas Carol ever heard in the Province of Ontario." The musical arrangement is followed by a translation of Huron into French (by the Huron chief Paul Picard of Lorette). Turner designed the illustrated binding, a color frontispiece: "Within a lodge of broken bark / The tender Babe was found," two additional full-page color plates ("Chiefs from Afar" and "Hunter Braves and Angels") in addition to colored initials, head and tail-pieces. The illustrations were printed in color by Dell' Acqua process. The Huron were in perpetual conflict with their ancient enemy, the Iroquois. In early 1649, Brébeuf and another missionary were captured during an Iroquois raid on a Huron village and, together with Huron captives, martyred in March. Beatified in 1925, Brébeuf was among fellow Jesuit missionaries canonized as the eight North American Martyrs in 1930. Though the lyrics are sometimes modified, the song continues as a Christmas hymn in many Canadian churches and is also found in several American hymnals, including The Hymnal 1982 of the Episcopal Church.

Price: $150.00

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