142. ’Twas in the Moon of Wintertime

1 ’Twas in the moon of wintertime,
when all the birds had fled,
Great Spirit, Lord of all the earth
sent angel choirs instead.
Before their light the stars grew dim
and wandering hunters heard the hymn:

Jesus, your king, is born;
Jesus is born.
In excelsis gloria.

2 Within a lodge of broken bark
the tender babe was found.
A ragged robe of rabbit skin
enwrapped his beauty round.
But as the hunters brave drew nigh
the angel song rang loud and high: [Refrain]

3 The earliest moon of wintertime
is not so round and fair
as was the ring of glory on
the helpless infant there.
The chiefs from far before him knelt
with gifts of fox and beaver pelt. [Refrain]

4 O children of the forest free,
the angel song is true:
the holy child of earth and heaven
is born today for you.
Come kneel before the radiant boy
who brings you beauty, peace, and joy. [Refrain]

Text Information
First Line: 'Twas in the moon of wintertime
Title: ’Twas in the Moon of Wintertime
Author: Jean de Brébeuf (1641 c.)
Translator: Jesse Edgar Middleton (1926, alt.)
Publication Date: 2013
Meter: with refrain
Scripture: Matthew 2:9-11; Luke 2:6-20
Topic: Christian Year: Nativity/Christmas; Christian Year: Epiphany; Jesus Christ: Birth
Language: English
Refrain First Line: Jesus, your king, is born
Tune Information
Arranger: H. Barrie Cabena (1970)
Meter: with refrain
Key: g minor
Source: French folk melody
Copyright: Arr. © 1971 H. Barrie Cabena (admin. Augsburg Fortress)
Notes: Guitar chords do not correspond with keyboard harmony.

Text Information:

This English text preserves the earliest known Canadian hymn, originally written in the Huron language by a missionary, later translated into French, and eventually paraphrased in English. It is set to a French noël tune old enough to have been used for the original version.

Audio recording: Audio (MP3)
More media are available on the text authority and tune authority pages.