Three chiefs present fox and beaver pelts to an infant wrapped in a ragged robe of rabbit skin in J. E. Middleton's 1926 interpretation of the first Canadian carol. The original, "Jesus Ahatonhia (Jesus Is Born)", was written in the Huron language about 1640 by Jesuit Father Jean de Brébeuf to describe the Nativity in terms his Indian flock would understand. Set to an old French tune, it was sung at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons (at present-day Midland, Ont.) until 1649, when Iroquois raiders destroyed the entire Jesuit mission in Huronia and killed Brébeuf. The carol he wrote remained part of Huron tradition for those tribesmen who escaped to Quebec, and it was being sung there by their descendants 100 years later. Written down by another Jesuit, the hymn was translated into French and English. Middleton's version is widely known today.
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