About this blogger:
Ordained in 2011, Father Friel served for five years as Parochial Vicar at St. Anselm Parish in Northeast Philly. He is currently studying toward an STL in sacred liturgy at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Connect on Facebook:
Connect on Twitter:
Why do we never sing “De Spiritu Sancto” (St. Athenogenes) in our churches? There are a dozen translations in English verse. Where could anyone find a better evening hymn than this, coming right down from the catacombs? Our hymnbooks know nothing of such a treasure as this, and give us pages of poor sentiment in doggerel lines by some tenth-rate modern versifier.
— Rev’d Adrian Fortescue (d. 1923)

ABOUT US  |  HEADER  |  ARCHIVE
‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime
published 26 December 2014 by Fr. David Friel

S WE CONTINUE our celebration of our Lord’s Nativity, here is a beautiful carol penned by one of our CCW patrons, St. Jean de Brébeuf. He wrote the original in Wyandot (the native Huron tongue) as a means of evangelization.

In the hymn, Father de Brébeuf utilizes traditional concepts from Huron religion to convey the story of Christ’s Nativity. This is “inculturation” in its truest, healthiest sense. Click here for a fuller history of this carol.

The author was a courageous man very worthy of our emulation, and this is a beautiful poem quite worthy of our reflection.

‘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 wondering hunters heard the hymn:

R./ 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: R./

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. R./

O children of the forest free,
the angels’ song is true.
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. R./

St. Jean de Brébeuf, c. 1643
(Translated by J. Edgar Middleton, 1926, alt.)

Wishing our readers much joy as we continue to welcome Christ’s Presence among us!