Þis kyng lay at Camylot vpon Krystmasse

3

37. Þis kyng lay at Camylot vpon Krystmasse
38. Wiþ mony luflych lorde, ledeȝ of þe best,
39. Rekenly of þe Rounde Table alle þo rich breþer,

40. Wiþ rych reuel oryȝt and rechles merþes.
41. Þer tournayed tulkes by tymez ful mony,
42. Justed ful jolile þise gentyle kniȝtes,
43. Syþen kayred to þe court caroles to make.

44. For þer þe fest watz ilyche ful fiften dayes,
45. Wiþ alle þe mete and þe mirþe þat men couþe avyse;
46. Such glaum ande gle glorious to here,
47. Dere dyn vpon day, daunsyng on nyȝtes,

48. Al watz hap vpon heȝe in hallez and chambrez
49. Wiþ lordeȝ and ladies, as leuest him þoȝt.
50. Wiþ all þe wele of þe worlde þay woned þer samen,

51. Þe most kyd knyȝtez vnder Krystes seluen,
52. And þe louelokkest ladies þat euer lif haden,
53. And he þe comlokest kyng þat þe court haldes;
54. For al watz þis fayre folk in her first age,

55. on sille,

56. Þe hapnest vnder heuen,
57. Kyng hyȝest mon of wylle;
58. Hit were now gret nye to neuen
59. So hardy a here on hille.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Gaudete, Gaudete

Vat Francesca Lutes xmas_2Gaudete, gaudete!
Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine,
Gaudete!

Tempus adest gratiæ
Hoc quod optabamus,
Carmina lætitiæ
Devote reddamus.

Deus homo factus est
Natura mirante,
Mundus renovatus est
A Christo regnante.

Ezechielis porta
Clausa pertransitur,
Unde lux est orta
Salus invenitur.

Ergo nostra contio
Psallat lam in lustro;
Benedicat Domino:
Salus Regi nostro.

Anonymous, printed 1582

Things in Honor Of St. Patrick

Image of Saint Patrick's Bell, Armagh, Ireland

Saint Patrick’s Bell

I’ve been blogging for dollars elsewhere, of late. But it occurs to me that this post on Guinness might interest some people, as might this post on Patrick, Bridget, Beer and fulacht fiadh.

It is a little disconcerting to discover how very few people in the U.S. even realize that Patrick was a Brythonic speaker, that is, he was from Britain, and almost certainly spoke an ancestor language of Modern Welsh. I suspect that to the Irish in Ireland, the American preoccupation with Patrick and beer on the 17th of March seems very very odd indeed.

Halloween, Samhain, and such

It’s the time of year when I start seeing incredibly daft posts about the antecedents of Halloween, particularly Samain (Samhain, for you moderns). This year, I’ve created an FAQ about Samain, and what it means.

For those of you already in the know, here’s a link to a translation by Kuno Meyer of the very odd Echtra Nera, mostly based on Eg. 1782. Echtra Nera is a tale tied closely to Samain, and features a sojourn in a síd, as well as the observation that “the fairy-mounds of Erinn are always opened about Halloween.”

In the beginning of the tale, a dead man directs Nera to take him to a house for a drink; he rejects houses that properly stow washing water and slop-pails at night, for one that violates purity sanctions, and has a washing-tub, and a bathing-tub and a slop pail, available.

He then drinks a draught of either of them and scatters the last sip from his lips at the faces of the people that were in the house, so that they all died. Henceforth it is not good [to have] either a tub for washing or bathing, or a fire without sparing, or a slop-pail in a house after sleeping.

We have in this medieval Irish text the same association of purity and the otherworld that Pistol alludes to in Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor when he says:

Elves, list your names; silence, you airy toys.
Cricket, to Windsor chimneys shalt thou leap:
Where fires thou find’st unraked and hearths unswept,
There pinch the maids as blue as bilberry:
Our radiant queen hates sluts and sluttery (V.v).

We see this same association in the sometimes-attributed-to Ben Jonson “Robin Goodfellow,” in which Robin the fairy or Puck says:

When house or harth doth sluttish lie,
I pinch the maids there blacke and blew.

Herrick too uses the same motif of poor housekeeping earning otherworldly punishment in “The Fairies”:

IF ye will with Mab find grace,
Set each platter in his place;
Rake the fire up, and get
Water in, ere sun be set.
Wash your pails and cleanse your dairies;
Sluts are loathsome to the fairies;
Sweep your house, who doth not so,
Mab will pinch her by the toe.

Merry Christmas!

Workshop of Robert Campion Annunciation Tryptych (Merode Altar piece)

Workshop of Robert Campion Annunciation Tryptych (Merode Altar piece)

The angel Gabriel from heaven came,

his wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame;

“All hail,” said he, “thou lowly maiden Mary,

most highly favored lady,” Gloria!

“For know a blessed Mother thou shalt be,

all generations laud and honor thee,

thy Son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold,

most highly favored lady,” Gloria!

Ryse, hyrd-men heynd

Angelus cantat «Gloria in excelsis»; postea dicat:

BL Add. Ms 34294, f.91Sforza Hours Annunciation to the Shepherds

Image f. 91 The Sforza Hours. British Library

A n g e l u s

920 Ryse, hyrd-men heynd,
For now is he borne
That shall take fro the feynd
That Adam had lorne;
That warloo to sheynd,
925 This nyght is he borne.
God is made youre freynd
Now at this morne,
He behestys.

At Bedlem go se
930 Ther lygys that fre
In a cryb full poorely,
Betwyx two bestys.

ll. 920–932. Secunda Pastorum. The Wakefield Master.
MS. HM 1, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California. c. 1450.

Sóþlíce we gesáwon hys steorran on east-daéle

BL_cotton_Nero_DIV_f27r_lindisfarne1. Eornustlice ðá se Haélend ácenned wæs on Iudeiscre Bethleem, on ðæs cyninges dagum Herodes, ðá comon ða tungol-wítegen fram east-dæle to Hierusalem,

2. And cwaédon, Hwær ys se, Iudea cyning ðe ácenned ys?
sóþlíce we gesáwon hys steorran on east-daéle, and we comon us him to ge-eadmédenne.

3. Ðá Herodes ðæt gehýrde ðá wearþ he gedréfed, and eal Hierosolim-waru mid him.

4. And ðá gegaderode Herodes ealle ealdras ðæra sacerda, and folces wríteras, and áxode, hwær Crist ácenned waére.

5. Ðá saédon hí him, On Iudeiscere Bethlem; wítodlíce ðus ys áwriten þurh ðone wítegan,

6. And ðú, Bethleem, Iudea land, wítodlíce ne eart ðú læstþ on Iuda ealdrum; of ðé forþ-gaéþ se here-toga, se ðe recþ mín folc Israhel.

7. Herodes ðá clypode on sunder-spraéce ða tungel-wítegan, and befran hí georne hwænne se steorra him æteowde.

8. And he ásende hí to Bethlem, and ðs cwæþ, Faraþ, and áxiaþ geornlíce be ðam cílde, and ðonne ge hyt gemétaþ, cýdaþ eft me, ðæt ic cume and me to him gebidde.

9. Ðá hí ðæt gebod gehýrdon, ðá férdon hí. And
sóþlíce! se steorra, ðe hí on east-daéle gesáwon, him befóran férde, oð he stód ofer, ðær ðæt cíld wæs.

10. Sóþlíce ðá, ða tungel-wítegan ðone steorran gesáwon,
[hig] fægenodon swýðe myclum gefean.

11. And ganggende into ðam húse, hí gemétton ðæt cíld mid
Marian, hys méder; and hi áþénedon hí, and hí to him gebaédon. And hí untýndon hyra gold-hordas, and him lác
brohton, ðæt wæs gold, and récela, and myrre.

The Christmas story from Matthew 2, c. 995, taken from Joseph
Bosworth, The Gothic and Anglo-Saxon Gospels in parallel columns
with the versions of Wycliffe and Tyndale
(London: John Russell
Smith, 1865), p. 6.

Posted to the Medtextl list by Jim Marchand, Dec. 20, 2004. Professor Marchand observes: “Bosworth is positive this is translated from the Vetus Latina and not the Vulgate. Note the occasional
disambiguation, e.g. Hierosolim-waru “Jerusalemites” for Hierusalem.”

The May Calendar Image from The Golf Book

Before discussing the May from the Golf Book, I’m going to be lazy, and link to a post from two years ago about May day and May calendar images from books of hours. This calendar image from a book of hours is an image of a Maying boat expedition.

May from the Golf Book manuscript showing a boating scene on one page and the calendar of holy days and feasts for May on the other page

The British Library’s Golf Book f. 22v–23

This page showing May from the Golf book is an image from the British Library’s manuscript Additional 24098 folio 22v. This May calendar image is from a sixteenth century  book of hours from the Netherlands workshop of Simon Bening and better known as The Golf Book. The image shows a characteristic aristocratic Maying scene in its depiction of a spring landscape (Bening is known for his landscapes), with green leaves, and branches of greenery in the boat. You’ll note there’s a lutenist, and a pipe player in the boat, presumably performing a Maying song or May carol. There appears to be an additional Maying party on the bridge above.

The style of the images in The Golf Book is very similar to that of panel paintings, and more “painterly” than is usual in earlier illuminated manuscripts, and typical of Bening’s workshop. The Golf Book is a partial ms. that consists of calendar images, similar to those in other Books of Hours, with an emphasis on leisure rather than seasonal labor. It is particularly well known for the miniature border images showing people playing games (like golf—The Golf Book has a calendar page with a scene at the bottom showing people playing a game like golf, hence the title). You can see other images from The Golf Book here and here, in a calendar scene for June, showing jousting. Some medievalists may be particularly interested in the toy windmills, or in the spectacles visible in this self-Portrait of Bening.

June

Most calendars in Books of Hours show either sheep shearing or haying for the labor of June. Some June pages instead depict the crab for Cancer and a scene from scripture. The June image from the Buchanan e. 3 ms. from the Bodleian, is a Book of Hours, Use of Rouen, in Latin and French
France, Rouen; c. 1500 for June is a typical June image.

 

There’s a peasant with a scythe on the top left, with the symbol for Cancer (though here the crab is more like a crayfish) on the bottom left. In the middle is the actual calendar, with the dates of various Saint’s days and other feasts that take place in June, localized for Rouen. The dates in blue are particularly important; traditionally these would be in red, in a rubric, giving use the phrase “red letter day.”

The Bibliotheque National NF, Lat 18104, fol. 3v, John of Berry’s Petites Heures, France, Paris 14th Century, for the month of June Shows Saint Paul preaching to the Philippians, the Church personified, and at the top, the symbol for Cancer, this time very clearly a crab.