Friday, December 25, 2015

The Lansdowne Letters: Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

I'm especially thinking of all my wonderful blogging friends.
The biggest delight of blogging for me is the friendship 
of these amazing, kind, and supportive bloggers. 

I hope that you and your loved ones are enjoying 
a lovely time this beautiful Christmas Day!

Terry and I are up in Breckenridge, Colorado,
with Terry's sister, Noreen, her husband Cathal,
their sons Kevin and Conor, and their 
daughter Deirdre and her new husband Will.
It is peaceful here in Breckenridge,
with lots of snow piled up
and a light dust of powder drifting down.

On this Christmas day I thought I would share two things.
The first is a photo of Santa Claus arriving 
in Lansdowne House for a special Christmas party 
Dad held for his Indian children at his school.

It was a brilliant sunny day in Lansdowne House,
the kind that makes your eyes hurt
if you look at the snow too long.
And at a frigid 30º below Fahrenheit (-34º C), 
the snow squeaked when you walked on it.

Somehow the cold rarely mattered in the sunshine;
although, pilots had to cover their ski planes 
to keep the engines from freezing up. 

Santa Claus with Mrs. Mitchell
Lansdowne house, Northern Ontario
December, 1960
Photo by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

The second thing I'm sharing is my favorite Christmas hymn, 
the Huron Carol, the first carol written in Canada,
in North America for that matter.

It was written by Father John de Brébeuf
during his time as a Jesuit missionary
to the Huron Indians from 1626 to 1649.

Martyr and Apostle of the Hurons

The Huron and Iroquois nations were at war 
during the mid-seventeenth century starting in 1642.
The Iroquois attacked his Huron mission,
and after brutally torturing Father de Brébeuf,
they burned him at the stake.

Escaping Hurons saved the words to his carol,
and Father Étienne de Villeneuve recorded them.
The carol was found among de Villeneuve's
papers after his death in 1794.

The Roman Catholic Church beatified
Father John de Brébeuf in 1925
and canonized him as a saint in 1930.
Seven other Jesuit missionaries were canonized with him.

The North American Martyrs

I first heard this haunting carol
when my family went North in early 1961.
From that moment it was my favorite
and remains so today.

The carol is an example of inculturalization.
Early missionaries in Canada used the cultural idioms 
of the Indians to teach them about Christianity.
It was my observation in Lansdowne House
that priests and ministers still used inculturalization.

Here is a recording of Huron Carol by the Canadian Tenors:

And here are the complete lyrics to this beautiful Canadian carol.
I have chosen the 1926 English version by Jesse Edgar Middleton.

'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 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
Enwrapp'd 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."

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.
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 heaven
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."

I will be back with my regular Lansdowne Letter posts
on New Year's Day.
Enjoy the rest of your holiday season.

1.  Joseph Boyden, a Canadian author, wrote The Orenda.
     It is an historical novel that takes place in Canada
     during the last days of the Huron Confederacy
     in the early to mid seventeenth century.
     One of its three narrators is a French Jesuit
     missionary priest named Christophe.
     Christophe's character is based on Father John de Brébeuf.  


  1. Sounds like a grand way to spend christmas indeed at your feed. Santa's sleigh must have broke down that day lol Merry Christmas.

    1. Merry Christmas, Pat! LOL! I hope your day was fun!

  2. Imagine Santa arriving by ski plane, was the engine cover made from reindeer skins? Enjoy Breckenridge. snow, family fun time and all else. Christmas Greetings to you and Terry. Google tells me you have -6C, at 3 p.m. Friday. Beautiful for the sleigh to land.

    1. Merry Christmas, Jean! Thanks for your kind wishes. I think the plane was covered with a heavy tarp, but it certainly looks like skins. I hope that you and Hugh had a lovely time with your family and loved ones!

  3. I hope you had a Merry Christmas today

    1. I had a blast, Adam! I hope that you, Daisy, and your family had a wonderful time too!

  4. Merry Christmas to you, my cherished friend. I hope your day was great! :)

    1. Merry Christmas, Linda! You are such a delight, and I treasure your friendship! I hope you had a great day too!

  5. What a rich history you present, and present so well. All my best wishes and appreciation.

    1. Thanks, Geo! Merry Christmas to you and Norma! I hope you had a lovely day!

  6. Love that photo of Santa up at Lansdowne House! I bet that was a fun time for all!

    I learned the Huron Carol when I was a little girl. It's still one of my most favourite Christmas carols. If you get the chance, listen to Bruce Cockburn's recording of it -- he sings it in both English and in the Huron language.

    I hope you and Terry had a wonderful Christmas! Best wishes for 2016!

    1. Thanks, Debra! I will absolutely listen to Bruce Cockburn's recording! We had, and still are having, a wonderful time here in Breckenridge. And this time, for the first time ever, I got to FaceTime with my family up in Calgary. That was so much fun to actually see my family. Of course, they were all laughing at me, because I'm just learning to use my first iPhone, especially the NexGen. I hope you and your Rare One had a fun time!

  7. This is by far one of the best places to hang with friends, have great drinks (amazing beer selection), eat some great food, including the great lunch I had there. Prices at New York venues are very reasonable and the pizza was awesome.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing your favourite Christmas carol, Louise. It is quite lovely and I can see how it would impact you as a child.
    Trusting you and Terry are having a wonderful time in Breckenridge. All the best of the season to you both.

    1. Hi, Jim! I'm trying to catch up on everything after some serious computer issues that have taken me several days to resolve. everything went to hell on Boxing Day! We had the best time in Breckenridge! I hope all is well with you!

  9. Your description of the snow is beautiful! It makes me think back to those days growing up in the northern Midwest of the U.S. I do miss watching the snow fall, but I just can't handle the cold any more. I remember the sound of snow squeaking when it was cold enough!!

    1. Hi Tess! Thanks for your kind comment! I'm finding the cold harder than I used to for sure. Terry and I did manage a walk in Breckenridge on Boxing Day when it was about 6º F. Thank goodness for silk long johns. Happy New Year to you!

  10. Hello Fundy Blue!! First, I am listening to the Huron Carol as I write and LOVE it. It's a favourite of mine as well and I enjoyed reading its history. Thank you! Second, I must respond to the post when Terry went to bed and you struggled to do a map with Lansdowne House placed for your readers to better understand your father's world. You and I are so alike!!! I had to smile. No advice to give :) Do you have any for me? :) Actually, I've made a new plan to spend no more than one hour writing my post each day and one hour writing comments. Hope I can stick to it. Squeaky snow brings back Quebec memories. Last night, as I was writing my post, I heard a loud bang and the wall behind me shook. My first thought was "earthquake" but I was so determined to stick to the plan, I decided someone in the neighbouring apartment must have fallen or banged into the wall. i looked outside, saw nothing, heard no more commotion and just went on blogging. It turns out my first thought was correct, but we are all fine, so not to worry. Hugs to you, dear friend. I'm hoping to stay in better touch! (This is a bouncing all over the place comment, but I know you will be fine with that.)

    1. You're right, Carol! I don't mind bouncing comments, I'm pretty good at them myself! I'm glad that you, Bill, and BJ had no problems because of the earthquake. Sounds like a great plan you have for blogging. I was just starting to catchup when my computer went on the fritz: I couldn't control my cursor, screens were randomly switching and jumping around, the screen was randomly changing sizes. I spent about 10 hours over several days just to be able to access my blog and type a comment. I have an Apple Genius appointment and I'm hoping that they won't have to take my computer for several days! No advice, sorry! I am realizing that there is a lot of help online. Have a wonderful New Year. I hope to be able to visit all my blogging friends later today. I must face the grocery store! LOL Have a good one!

  11. A very Happy New Year to you!!

    1. Thank you, Glo! My computer has been down, but I'm now back in full operation. Happy New Year to you!

  12. What a wonderful post. I especially love the Santa picture!

    Hope your holidays were happy. Wishing you a happy and healthy 2016. :)

    1. Wishing you the same. Jess! Sorry for my late reply, but I was having big computer issues


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