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Which Christmas carol was written by a saint?

The beautiful Huron Carol uses American Indian imagery to tell the story of the Nativity.

St. Jean de Brebeuf was a Jesuit missionary and martyr in the 17th century. He was sent to North America to minister to the Huron Indians around the time of St. Isaac Jogues. Brebeuf was able to penetrate hostile Iroquois territory in order to reach the Hurons. He gained respect for his giant stature and enormous strength, but the Hurons did not trust him and were quick to blame any disaster on his crucifix.

St. Jean de Brebeuf (photo by Matt Osborne/CC BY-SA 4.0)

During the winter months, Brebeuf sought to explain the Incarnation and Nativity to the natives in a way that they would understand. He brought the scene of the Nativity to Quebec, converting the stable to a bark lodge, the wise men to chiefs, the shepherds to hunters, and so on. Then he set the words he’d written in Huron to an old French melody.

‘Twas in the moon of winter-time
When all the birds had fled,
That mighty Gitchi Manitou
Sent angel choirs instead;
Before their light the stars grew dim,
And wandering hunter heard the hymn:
“Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria.”

Fr. Brebeuf sought to reveal the timelessness and universality of Our Lord’s birth, showing that the night of the Nativity happened for the sake of all mankind. Think of this when you wear and pray with the O Holy Night Rosary Bracelet. Handcrafted with fire-polished deep blue crystal, this elegant (and useful!) bracelet clasps with an antique bronze ring and bar. The deep colors and pointed bead-caps echo the star-filled heavens of that Holy Night. The perfect gift for any lady this Christmas! Available today at The Catholic Company!

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