Today’s song is the Huron Carol, Canada’s oldest Christmas carol, written in 1642 by Father Jean de Brébeuf, who was recuperating at the time from a broken clavicle. The oldest words are different from what we usually sing, and there are lots of translations. That last link has a guide to pronunciation and a file to download, if you want to sing it in Huron, and there’s a video recording of it in Huron here along with the various sets of words. You can play with it on mfiles, and print out sheet music for all your instruments. If you don’t want sheet music, there’s guitar tab with a nice guitar recording. It has also been recorded by the Crash Test Dummies and by Bruce Cockburn, if you just want to listen.

Frances Tyrrell has done a picture book of it, and Christmas cards, too.

This is a great example of how the early church fathers adapted their message to the context wherever they were, a practice which the apostle Paul would have applauded, though plenty of people nowadays would call it cultural imperialism. The tune was “Une Jeune Pucelle,” which you can hear played by the Boston Camerata for a moment or two, though I haven’t found lyrics.

Yesterday, the Art Teacher posted a student handbook and asked for feedback, so I went and read it. I was struck by one section, which explained that design students who didn’t have talent should plan to work harder.

I don’t have design talent. Actually, I’m good at the whole information architecture part, which is pretty central in web design, and I’m improving my coding all the time. The art part, however, escapes me. I figure this is because I have no talent.

I’m adding the front page of my project for the web design class I took this past summer as evidence. It isn’t horrible; it was in fact better than most of the projects I saw from that class. But I can look at it now and see that the typography isn’t quite right and the margins aren’t correct. I was wrong to use a single large image for the background, too, since that would slow the load time. The header isn’t readable, the multiple background images aren’t well suited to one another, and the whole thing has that “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like” effect.

My inclination is to figure that my lack of talent in this area means I can’t do it, so I was interested to see the claim that untalented people merely have to work harder.

There is some support for this claim in the mere fact that I can now see the problems with the way I put in that text, though I didn’t see them at the time. However, I have sung with people for years who still aren’t any good. They don’t have the talent.

What do you think? Can untalented people become good at things like design merely by working harder?