• Literature,  Music

    I Syng of A Mayden

    “I Syng of a Mayden,” sometimes titled “As Dewe in Aprille” is a Middle English Marian lyric (or perhaps more accurately, a carol) about the virgin Mary, with reference to the Annunciation story in Luke 1:26-38. The Middle English is 15th century, with enough oddities that I hesitate to speculate about the dialect. “I Syng of A Mayden” is preserved in a single British Library manuscript MS Sloane 2593 f.10v, a collection of 71 carols and songs or lyrics on paper, with the exception of a strip of parchment used to mend a folio. The MS. has been damaged; a number of folios are missing from the beginning. The first poem…

  • Calendar,  Music

    Adam Lay Ybounden

    Adam lay i-bowndyn, bowndyn in a bond, Fowre thowsand wynter thowt he not to long And al was for an appil, an appil that he tok. As clerkes fyndyn wretyn in here book. Ne hadde the appil take ben, the appil taken ben, Ne hadde never our lady a ben hevene quen. Blyssid be the tyme that appil take was! Therefore we mown syngyn Deo gratias! This Middle English carol is from the British Library’s manuscript Sloane 2593, ff.10v-11, c. 1400, so the carol is roughly contemporaneous with Chaucer, though it’s not in Chaucer’s London dialect of Middle English. The thematic core of the carol is the idea that if…

  • Calendar,  Medieval manuscripts,  Music

    Angelus ad virginem

    “Angelus ad virginem” is a Medieval Latin carol celebrating the Annunciation by the angel Gabriel telling the Virgin that she would conceive and bear the Christ child. The Latin lyrics are (here’s a rough translation): 1. Angelus ad virginem Subintrans in conclave. Virginis formidinum Demulcens inquit “Ave.” Ave regina virginum, Coeliteraeque dominum Concipies Et paries Intacta, Salutem hominum. Tu porta coeli facta Medella criminum. 2. Quomodo conciperem, quae virum non cognovi? Qualiter infringerem, quae firma mente vovi? ‘Spiritus sancti gratia Perficiet haec omnia; Ne timaes, sed gaudeas, secura, quod castimonia Manebit in te pura Dei potentia.’ 3. Ad haec virgo nobilis Respondens inquit ei; Ancilla sum humilis Omnipotentis Dei. Tibi…

  • Music

    The Boar’s Head Carol

    There was a Medieval Christmastide tradition of ceremonially cooking and presenting the boar’s head as a main course at a feast. Indeed, Queen’s college still celebrates a notable boar and an alum in “The Boar’s Head Carol.” Tradition says, or at least William Henry Husk, Librarian to the Sacred Harmonic Society, says that the boar’s head tradition of a feast at Queens derives from Where an amusing tradition formerly current in Oxford concerning the boar’s head custom, which represented that usage as a commemoration of an act of valour performed by a student of the college, who, while walking in the neighbouring forest of Shotover and reading Aristotle, was suddenly…

  • Calendar,  Medieval manuscripts,  Music

    The Cherry-Tree Carol

    The Cherry-tree Carol: O then bespoke Mary, so meek and so mild: “Pluck me one cherry, Joseph, for I am with child.” O then bespoke Joseph, with words most unkind: “Let him pluck thee a cherry that brought thee with child.” The Cherry-tree Carol appears to have first been collected in Britain in the seventeenth century. Francis James Child printed three versions, calling the song “The Cherry-Tree Carol,” and publishing it as Child Ballad 54. It was collected previously, and subsequently, in versions from all over the British isles, and from America’s Appalachia region, where Jean Ritchie popularized the Cherry-tree Carol, in a version memorialized by Joan Baez and others.…

  • Calendar,  Music

    The Wexford Carol / Carúl Loch Garman

    Carúl Loch Garman O tagaigí is adhraigí An leanbh cneasta sa chró ‘na luí Is cuimhnigí ar ghrá an Rí A thug dar saoradh anocht an naí A Mhuire Mháthair i bParas Dé Ar chlann bhocht Eabha Guí anois go séimh Is doras an chró ná dún go deo G n-adhraím feasta Mac Rí na hÓighe I mBeithil thoir i lár na hoíche Ba chlos an dea-scéal d’aoirí Go follas don tsaol san spéir go binn Bhí aingil ag canadh ó rinn go rinn Gluaisigí go beo, duirt aingil Dé Go Beithil sall is gheobhaith sibh é ‘Na luí go ciúin i mainséar tuí Siúd é an Prionsa, Mac Óg…

  • Calendar

    Gaudete, Gaudete

    Gaudete, 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