1642 by Jean de Brébeuf, a Jesuit missionary at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons in Canada. The well-known English lyrics were written in 1926 by Jesse Edgar Middleton, and the copyright to these lyrics was held by The Frederick Harris Music Co. Limited, but entered the angel sarah mclachlan sheet music pdf domain in 2011.
The English version of the hymn uses imagery familiar in the early 20th century, in place of the traditional Nativity story. This version is derived from Brébeuf’s original song and Huron religious concepts. In the English version, Jesus is born in a “lodge of broken bark” and wrapped in a “robe of rabbit skin”. He is surrounded by hunters instead of shepherds, and the Magi are portrayed as “chiefs from afar” who bring him “fox and beaver pelts” instead of the more familiar gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The English translation uses a traditional Algonquian name, Gitchi Manitou, for God, which is not in the original Wyandot version. The original lyrics are now sometimes modified to use imagery accessible to Christians who are not familiar with aboriginal Canadian cultures.