Frankston, Australia

adgray is a writer and a poet / - telling stories all her life / - writing them down once she learnt how / Scribbling! Always...

Medieval Music

One of my creative passions is singing, in fact I sing better than I do write! [the spelling mistakes aren’t as noticeable!]
One aCapella choir I was in sang medieval music – church and madrigal stuff – and from this I have been privileged to have learned the first song ever written down.
“Sumer is icumen in”
The story goes a monk devised how to write music. He wanted to write a church piece but was told he couldn’t as that would devalue the music as sacred – only for church to hand down. So said monk went a wandering and came across peasants in the fields working – bringing in the hay. They were singing and the monk decided he couldn’t get into trouble writing a song they all knew anyway so he wrote it.
[But of course he got into trouble for not writing an honorable song as the first!]

As the men swung their scythes they sang in time:

“Sing cuckoo oh-oh sing cuckoo” ……… over and over

Over that the maids were singing a bright tune of the heralding of spring.
[for all you Nth Hemisphere people on here you shall like this!]

~ Bear in mind it is Old English – pronunciation & translation to come after ~

Sumer is icumen in
Lhudde sing cuc-cu
Grow-eth sed and blow-eth med
And springth the w[o]de-nu
Sing cuc-cu
A-we bleteth after lomb lhouth
After calve cu
Bulluc sterteth buckeverteth
Murie sing cuc-cu
Cuc-cu, cuc-cu
Wel sing-es the cuc-cu
Ne swik thu naver nu


Soo-mer iz u-coo-men i-i-in
Lou-deh sing coo-cuu
Grow-eth sed und blow-eth med
Und springth the whoa-de-nuu
Sing coo-cuu
Ah-way blair-teth after loo-omb loth
After cal-ve-coo
Bullock stair-teth book-eh-vair-teth
Moor-ee sing coo-cuu
Coo-cuu, coo-cuu
Well sing-ez the coo-cuu
Nair zwik the nah-vair-nuu

Translation -

_[spring is here the cuckoo announces it with it’s loud song and we should also]
Sumer is coming, loudly sing cuckoo
The seed grows and meadow blossoms
And wood now springs into leaf
Sing cuckoo
Ewe bleats after the lamb and cow
Lows after the calf
Bullock mounts and the buck breaks wind
[the bull mounts the cows and the deer buck sends out his musk sent to attract a doe]
Merrily sings the cuckoo
Cuckoo, cuckoo
Well sings the cuckoo.
Don’t stop now !
[not stop you never now]


I was also fortunate to learn the first drinking song written down [I don’t think by the monk!] it’s a translation from German I think

Tis women makes us love
tis love that makes us sad
tis sadness makes us drink
and drinking makes us mad!


the whole issue of men and love and drink in one stanza! lol


these songs are around the late 1600s from memory
– but don’t quote me on that! lol

Enjoy! ~ adg :o)

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