Huron Carol, The

Conductor Notes:

Scored for Piano (or optional string quartet, percussion, 2 guitars, bass, quarto). Here is an arrangement of Canada’s most famous Christmas carol that successfully combines a lyrical delivery of the haunting tune by the choir with rhythmic vitality in the accompaniment. Again (see I Saw Three Ships), there are multiple voicings and accompaniments available. The story behind the original carol is that a famous missionary to Canada’s First Nations people, Father Jean de Br├ębeuf, created the piece to deliver the message of the birth of Christ in a context that the people of Canada could understand. Combining a native name for God, references to hunters instead of shepherds with the news that “Jesus your king is born, in excelsis gloria”, the result has become a beloved part of Christmas in this country. In terms of learning the SA version, the piece sits very well for all voices with a few low spots for the alto. Much easier for the choir than “I Saw Three Ships”, you will nonetheless need an excellent pianist, as their part is quite weighty and drives the whole piece forward throughout. A nice, fading ending is the icing on the cake of this “Huron Carol” – a pleasure to sing, conduct and listen to.

Composer / Arranger Notes:

This Canadian carol (taken from a French melody with lyrics by St. Jean de Brebeuf) has become a standard and is one of the most performed carols in Canada – this version, which has been performed by many choirs including the Vancouver Chamber Choir, Elektra Women’s Choir, Coastal Sound Music Academy and many more in the USA, has a driving, flamenco-like 12/8 feeling that propels the performance along with a tremendous spirit.

References:

This lists any discs, concerts or collections where this piece is included.

Recordings

Collections:

Concerts:

Text:

‘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;
But 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 sons 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”.