Monday, 15 December 2014

Medieval Christmas Poetry (ii)

Continuing my re-posting of Christmas poetry, (but this time in rather better chronological order than before - at least so far), here is the next (and see the end of this post for exciting novelty!)

My favourite medieval poem for Christmas is this Hymn to the Virgin. The trick of inserting rhyming Latin into rhyming English, whilst making the meaning quite clear, really appeals to me.

This is from about 1300.

Of on that is so fayr and bright
Velut maris stella
Brighter than the day is light
Parens et puella
Ic crie to the, thou see to me,
Levedy, preye thi Sone for me,
Tam pia,
That ic mote come to thee,

Al this world was for-lore,

Eva peccatrice
Tyl our Lord was y-bore
De te genetrice
With ave it went away
Thuster nyth and comes the day
The well springeth ut of the

Levedy, flour of alle thing

Rosa sine spina
Thu bere Jhesu, hevene king,
Gratia divina
Of alle thu ber'st the pris,
Levedy, quene of paradys
Mayde milde, moder es

What do you mean, it is not obvious?  OK, here are some clues:

on - one; levedy - lady; thuster - dark; pris - prize.

Velut maris stella - like the star of the sea

Parens et puella - mother and maiden
Eva peccatrice - by Eve's sin

Ask in the comms box if anything else needs elucidating (and correct all my errors…)

This has been set to music often, with varying success… A quick visit to Youtube will give several examples.

Here is Benjamin Britten's:

Regular readers (if such there be) clamouring for novelty will be pleased to know that I have unearthed some new medieval Christmas poems, which will follow in due course. (One rarely has cause (or excuse) to write 'new medieval'; I mean, of course, new to me and to this blog).


I have come across a fifth verse to this poem, here.

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