Monthly Archives: December 2005

Iesus Ahattonia

There’s been a little discussion about The Huron Carol on the hymns list. This is the carol that, in the usual English version goes:

‘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.”

The Huron Carol is thought to be the first Canadian carol. It’s especially interesting because it was either originally written in the language of the Hurons or co-written with a French version. It was written by Jean de Brebeuf, a Jesuit missionary; the Jesuits wrote approvingly and with linguistic sophistication (see this study, for example).

The thing is, the English translation, which is well loved, doesn’t really reflect either the original Huron (or, more properly, Wendat) or French. It’s sweet, but it is (at best) a fanciful paraphrase of the original, written in 1926 by Jesse Edgar Middleton (it fact, it’s probably still under copyright). Somehow, it makes me all the sadder that the last native speakers of Wendat died in the 1960s. The Wyandot lost 50% of their population to disease on European contact; were pressured by the Iroquois confederacy, and generally backed the wrong side in the French/English battles and English/US battles in the New World–in addition to the usual genocidal policies carried out against native peoples in the US and Canada. There are Wyandot populations in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Quebec. It seems to me that a good English translation of the carol is still wanting. There is an more faithful (but not wonderful) Engish version, Brebeuf’s original French version, the Wendat and literal English version, as well as Middleton’s version available at the First Nations on the Rouge site. Bruce Cockburn did a recording of this song (in Wendat!), and there is another literal Engish version at The Cockburn Project. All that is needed is a good poet …

Christian Peacemaker Teams

On November 26, four members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams were kidnapped in Iraq by a previously unknown group called the Swords of Righteousness. The CPT team was in Iraq investigating abuses by the occupying forces (they provided some of the first news on Abu Ghraib and other abuse cases in Iraq). Their motto is being “committed to reducing violence by ‘Getting in the way,'” which means putting themselves in dangerous spots just so violence may be reduced because of public pressure, changes of heart, putting on spotlight on abuse, etc. A deadline of December 10 was made by the group holding the workers; obviously, the deadline has long passed, and nothing is really known about how the CPT’ers are faring. I appreciate their fearlessness in going to Iraq, and pray for their safe return.

No wonder

I saw the Chronicles Of Narnia movie this weekend. My biggest fear was that Disney would tinker with the story too much; this fear was unfounded. It’s a respectful and fairly faithful telling of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Aslan is still not a tame lion, and is good, not safe, and Professor Kirke still wonders What do they teach at schools these days? I doubt that the movie will evoke much Sehnsucht. Disney’s Narnia isn’t a place I yearn to visit, nor does it evoke a sense of nostalgic longing for my true home. On the other hand, I did sit next to a very young child–perhaps three years old–who ask his mother, “Is this a true story?” I doubt this movie will set mermaids singing for many, or prompt many to learn that if you become Christ’s you will stumble upon wonder upon wonder and every wonder true (attributed to St. Brendan of Birr in this list of quotations on wonder). All in all, not a bad movie, and it taught me a few things: for example, centaurs can wield two swords in battle because they don’t need reins, and the evoking of the Nazi bombing of England was better than the book’s. Worth seeing (perhaps only after having read the books), but even with all of its CGI magic, not wonderful.

Spammers attack

I’m getting a lot of comment spam, so I’ve trying out Spam Karma, which was very easy to install. If you’re reading this, please leave a (non-spam!) comment; if you have any problems, please email me at will dot fitzgerald c/o gmail dot com.