The Animal Carol (Carol delle Bestie)

“The Friendly Beasts”, “The Song of the Ass”, “The Donkey Carol”, “The Animal Carol” o “The Gift of the Animals”, “The Gifts They Gave” è la versione inglese di Orientis Partibus il canto dell’Asino salmodiato in Chiesa per la Festa dell’Asinello.
“The Friendly Beasts”, “The Song of the Ass”, “The Donkey Carol”, “The Animal Carol” or “The Gift of the Animals”, “The Gifts They Gave” is the English version of “Orientis Partibus” the Donkey carol chanted in the Church for the Feast of the Donkey.
La versione inglese fu scritta solo molto più recentemente da Robert Davis (1881-1950), ma è solo una canzoncina natalizia completamente scollegata dal suo contesto goliardico e carnascialesco. Burl Ives ha registrato la canzone nel suo album “Christmas Day in the Morning” (1952). Da allora, il brano è stato registrato da molti altri artisti, tra cui Harry Belafonte, Johnny Cash, Danny Taddei, Peter, Paul e Mary e Sufjan Stevens.
The English version was written only much more recently by Robert Davis (1881-1950), but it is only a Christmas song completely disconnected from its collegiate and carnival context.
Burl Ives included the song on his 1952 album Christmas Day in the Morning. Since then, it has been recorded by many other artists, including Harry Belafonte, Johnny Cash, Danny Taddei, Peter, Paul and Mary, and Sufjan Stevens.

Le iniziali sei strofe (asinello, mucca, pecora, colomba)  sono state poi integrate con ulteriori versi che comprendono i più svariati animali: cammello, gatto, cane, topo, ragno..
The initials six stanzas (donkey, cow, sheep, dove) were then integrated with further verses that include the most varied animals: camel, cat, dog, mouse, spider ..

Johnny Cash

Pete Seeger

The Lagos City Chorale An Igbo Christmas Carol (The Animal Carol)


I
Jesus, our Brother, strong and good,
Was humbly born in a stable rude,
And the friendly beasts around Him stood,
Jesus, our Brother, strong and good.
II
“I,” said the donkey, shaggy and brown,
“I carried your(1) mother uphill and down,
I carried your mother to Bethlehem town;
I,” said the donkey, shaggy and brown.
III
“I,” said the cow, all white and red,
“I gave you (2) my manger for your bed,
I gave you hay to pillow your head;
I,” said the cow, all white and red.
IV
“I,” said the sheep with curly horn,
“I gave you my wool for a blanket warm,
you wore my coat on Christmas morn;
I,” said the sheep with curly horn.
V
“I,” said the dove, from the rafters high,
“I cooed you to sleep that you should not cry,
we cooed you to sleep, my love and I;
I,” said the dove, from the rafters high.
VI
And “I” said the camel all yellow and black
“Over the desert upon my back
I brought him a gift in the wise men’s pack”
“I” said the camel all yellow and black
VII
“I” said the cat with velvet fur,
“Curled at his feet and for him did purr,
warming his toes so he nedd not stir”
“I” said the cat with velvet fur
VIII
Thus all the beasts, by some good spell (4),
in the stable dark were glad to tell
of the gifts they gave Emmanuel,
the gifts they gave Emmanuel.
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
I
Gesù fratello buono e gentile
nacque in un umido e piccolo ovile
attorno a lui gli animali amici a stavano a gioire
Gesù fratello buono e gentile
II
Io -disse l’asino scuro e arruffato-
Io la madre per monti e per valli ho portato
Io la madre a Betlemme ho portato
Io -disse l’asino scuro e arruffato-
III
Io – disse la mucca pezzata (3) –
io ti ho dato la mangiatoia per il letto
io ti ho dato il fieno per la testata
Io – disse la mucca pezzata –
IV
Io – disse la pecora dalle  corna ricurve-
io ti ho dato la mia lana per una coperta calda
da indossare la mattina di Natale
Io – disse la pecora dalle  corna ricurve
V
Io – disse la colomba dalle travi lassù-
io ho tubato sul tuo sonno perchè non piangessi,
abbiamo tubato sul tuo sonno, il mio compagno ed io
Io – disse la colomba dalle travi lassù
VI
Io – disse il cammello giallo e nero-
attraverso il deserto sulla mia schiena
ho portato per lui un dono nel bagaglio dei re Magi
Io – disse il cammello giallo e nero
VII
Io -disse il gatto con la pelliccia di velluto
mi sono acciambellato ai suoi piedi e per lui ho fatto le fusa
scaldando le sue dita per non farlo tremare,
Io -disse il gatto con la pelliccia di velluto
VIII
E così tutti gli animali, grazie a un incantesimo,
nella buia stalla erano felici di raccontare
il dono che diedero a Gesù
il dono che diedero a Gesù

NOTE
1) or his
2) or him
3) letteralmente bianca e rossa
4) nella tradizione popolare la notte della nascita di Gesù è una notte magica e gli animali possono parlare, così pure all’Epifania.  Per l’uomo però è rischioso spiare gli animali per stare ad ascoltare, spesso infatti annunciano la morte del malcapitato. Era consuetudine nutrire bene i propri animali la notte della vigilia per evitare che parlassero male dei loro padroni.
In the popular tradition the night of the birth of Jesus is a magical night and the animals can speak, as well as at Epiphany. For the man, however, it is risky to spy on animals and listening, often in fact they announce the death of the victim. They feeded their animals well on the night before Christmas to prevent them from talking badly about their masters.

LINK
https://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/friendly_beasts.htm
http://www.ramshornstudio.com/carol_of_the_beasts.htm
http://www.sharefollowserve.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/The-Friendly-Beasts.pdf

Good King Wenceslas

Forse una delle canzoni natalizie più famose è una composizione ottocentesca di  John Mason Neale sulla scia del Christmas Revival vittoriano. Nel 1853 il reverendo John Mason Neale scelse san Venceslao come protagonista di un canto per bambini sulla generosità, “Good King Wenceslas” (Il buon re Venceslao), divenne ben presto un canto natalizio tradizionale nel giorno di Santo Stefano (il giorno del Boxing Day, un tempo il giorno dedicato alla carità).
Perhaps one of the most famous Christmas carols is a nineteenth-century composition by John Mason Neale in the wake of the Victorian Christmas Revival. In 1853 the Reverend John Mason Neale chose St. Wenceslas as the protagonist of a children’s song about generosity, “Good King Wenceslas”, soon became a traditional Christmas song on St. Stephen’s Day (the Boxing Day once the day dedicated to charity).
Venceslao è realmente esistito e fu Duca di Boemia nel X secolo (tra il 921 e il 929/935), colui che favorì la diffusione del Cristianesimo  in un paese ancora fortemente legato alle antiche tradizioni, fatto uccidere dal fratello per salire al trono, è venerato sia dalla Chiesa Cattolica che Ortodossa e santo patrono della Repubblica Ceca;secondo la leggenda era un uomo generoso e gentile, scrive Cosma di Praga  rifacendosi alle sue agiografie”Ma le sue azioni credo che tu sappia meglio di quanto potrei dirti; perché, come si legge nella sua Passione , nessuno dubita che, alzandosi ogni notte dal suo letto nobile, a piedi nudi e con un solo ciambellano, andò in giro alle chiese di Dio e diede generosamente elemosine a vedove, orfani, prigionieri e afflitti di ogni difficoltà, tanto che era considerato, non un principe, ma il padre di tutti i miserabili.”
Wenceslas really existed and was Duke of Bohemia in the tenth century (between 921 and 929/935), who favored the spread of Christianity in a country still strongly linked to ancient traditions, made to kill by his brother to ascend the throne, he is revered both by the Catholic and Orthodox Church and patron saint of the Czech Republic, according to legend he was a generous and kind man, writes Cosmas of Prague, referring to his hagiographies
But his deeds I think you know better than I could tell you; for, as is read in his Passion, no one doubts that, rising every night from his noble bed, with bare feet and only one chamberlain, he went around to God’s churches and gave alms generously to widows, orphans, those in prison and afflicted by every difficulty, so much so that he was considered, not a prince, but the father of all the wretched.”

statua di San Venceslao – Praga

A San Venceslao è pure collegata una leggenda arturiana, quella in cui si sarebbe risvegliato in caso di invasione nemica, e messo a capo dell’esercito di guerrieri dormiente sotto alla montagna di Blaník per portare il popolo alla vittoria.
An Arthurian legend is also connected to St. Wenceslas, the one in which he would have awakened in the event of an enemy invasion, and placed at the head of the army of sleeping warriors under the mountain of Blaník to bring the people to victory.

La musica era in origine un canto primaverile in latino: “Tempus adest floridum” (secolo XIII, di anonimo) e pubblicato per la prima volta nel 1582 in una collezione di canti religiosi svedesi.
The music was originally a spring song in Latin: “Tempus adest floridum” (thirteenth century, anonymous) and published for the first time in 1582 in a collection of Swedish religious songs.

 La storia narra di un piccolo miracolo di Natale, a seguito della nota bontà del Re.
Ma la cosa che mi colpisce di più è che qui, nel giro di pochi versi, c’è tutto l’uomo. La sua sofferenza, la sua debolezza, il suo bisogno di essere salvato. E c’è la tenerezza di Dio che si fa carne, che si rende concreta, incontrabile. C’è una meta, ma c’è anche la compagnia per affrontare la strada che è in mezzo. Il buon Re Venceslao è figura di Gesù, che, pur essendo Re, si fa servo, condivide in tutto e per tutto la sofferenza e la fatica di noi uomini. (Gianluca Zappa tratto da qui)
The story tells about a small Christmas miracle, as following the known goodness of the King.
“But the thing that strikes me most is that here, in a few lines, there is the whole man. His suffering, his weakness, his need to be saved. And there is the tenderness of God who becomes flesh, which becomes concrete, incontrovertible. There is a goal, but there is also the fellowship to face the road that is in the middle. The good King Wenceslas is figure of Jesus, who, despite being King, becomes a servant, shares in all and for all the suffering and hard work of us men”. (Gianluca Zappa translated from here)

 Loreena McKennitt in  “A Winter Garden – Five Songs For the Season.”
Blackmore’s Night in Winter Carols 2006

The Gothard Sisters in Falling Snow 2016

The Irish Rovers interpretati da 4 simpatici mattacchioni che si firmano BrothersCharles sul loro canale You Tube
The Irish Rovers played by 4 nice bricks who sign BrothersCharles on their You Tube channel


I
Good King Wenceslas (1) looked out,
On the Feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about,
Deep and crisp and even;
Brightly shone the moon that night,
though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight,
Gathering winter fuel.
II
“Hither, page, and stand by me,
If though know it, telling,
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?”
“Sire, he lives a good league hence,
Underneath the mountain;
Right against the forest fence,
By Saint Agnes’ fountain.”
III
“Bring me flesh, and bring me wine (3),
Bring me pine logs hither;
Thou and I will see him dine,
When we bear them thither.”
Page and monarch, forth they went,
Forth they went together;
Thro’ the rude wind’s wild lament
And the bitter weather.
IV
“Sire, the night is darker now,
And the wind blows stronger;
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer.”
“Mark my footsteps, my good page;
Tread thou in them boldly;
Though shalt find the winter’s rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly ”
V
In his master’s steps he trod,
Where the snow lay dinted;
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed (4).
Therefore, Christian men, be sure,
Wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor,
Shall yourself find blessing.
Traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
I
Il buon re Venceslao (1) guardò fuori
A Santo Stefano
Mentre la neve si ammucchiava
alta, fresca e uniforme
Splendeva  la luna quella notte
Anche se il gelo era crudele
Quando si parò innanzi un pover uomo
Che raccoglieva legna da ardere.
II
“Vieni qua, o paggio e stammi vicino
e dimmi se lo sai
chi è quel contadino la fuori?
Dove vive e come sta?
“Maestà, vive a una buona lega da qui sotto la montagna,
proprio vicino alla siepe (2) accanto alla fonte di Santa Agnese
III
”Portami della carne e del vino (3)
portami anche dei ceppi di pino
tu ed io lo vedremo cenare
quando li porteremo laggiù”
Il paggio e il re uscirono
in avanti assieme andarono
attraverso le gelide folate di vento
e il maltempo.
IV
“Maestà, la notte si è fatta più scura,
e il vento soffia più forte:
il mio cuore ha paura, e non so come
andare più avanti”
“Segui le mie orme, mio buon paggio e calpestale con decisione, troverai che la rabbia dell’inverno, gelerà il tuo sangue con meno forza”
V
Nei passi del suo padrone camminò, dove nella neve erano le orme, il caldo era in quelle zolle
che il santo aveva calpestato (4).
Perciò siate certi o cristiani
in possesso di ricchezza o rango,
voi che ora date misericordia (5) al povero troverete voi stessi misericordia


NOTE
1) il Duca Venceslao venne dichiarato re “post mortem” quando Carlo IV  fece forgiare a suo nome la nuova corona reale boema. Sebbene nelle illustrazioni del Carol sia raffigurato come un vecchio dalla lunga barba bianca egli morì in giovane età (a 28 anni o 22 anni), dopo aver regnato sulla Boemia medievale per poco più di una decina d’anni. Re Venceslao I è invece figlio di Ottocaro I il primo re di Boemia dal 1198 al 1230.
the Duke Wenceslas was declared king “post mortem” when Charles IV had the new Bohemian royal crown forged in his name. Although in the illustrations by Carol  he is portrayed as an old man with a long white beard, he died at a young age (aged 28 or 22), having reigned over medieval Bohemia for just over a decade. King Wenceslas I is instead the son of Ottocaro I, the first king of Bohemia from 1198 to 1230
2) letteralmente steccato, recinzione boschiva
3) carne e vino sono il cibo simbolico del sacrificio di Cristo
meat and wine are the symbolic food of the sacrifice of Christ
4) Nel momento in cui il paggio perde la speranza, è preso dallo sconforto, ma decide nonostante tutto di proseguire, avviene un piccolo miracolo: le orme del buon re emanano un calore tale da scongelare la neve e riscaldare le zolle. La narrazione segue la leggenda secondo cui il buon re era solito andare di notte a piedi scalzi a fare elemosina ai poveri: il calore interno emanato dal suo amore verso Dio si trasmette attraverso le orme lasciate sul terreno.
When the page loses his hope, he is taken by despair, but still decides to continue, so a small miracle takes place: the footsteps of the good king give off such heat as to thaw the snow and heat the clods. The narrative follows the legend that the good king used to go barefoot at night to give alms to the poor: the internal heat emanating from his love for God is transmitted through the footsteps left on the ground.
5) anche se misericordia si traduce con mercy, è usata qui per blessing (benedizione) nel senso di elargizione ai poveri

In “Canti di Natale di tutto il mondo”  (1992) a cura di Egidio Corbetta , Ilio Manfredotti ha “tradotto” “Good King Wenceslas” in italiano, in realtà il brano è un testo completamente diverso dal titolo “Stella d’Oriente”
In “Canti di Natale di tutto il mondo” (1992) by Egidio Corbetta, Ilio Manfredotti has “translated” “Good King Wenceslas” in Italian, in reality the song is a completely different text entitled “Stella d’Oriente”

LINK
http://damatti.blogspot.com/2015/09/san-venceslao-patrono-repubblica-ceca.html
https://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Text/legend_of_s_wenceslaus.htm
https://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/good_king_wenceslas.htm
http://www.gliscritti.it/blog/entry/4604
https://bifrost.it/SLAVI/Fonti/Praga-1.html
https://www.storynory.com/king-wenceslas

Let all that are to mirth inclined

Loreena McKennitt sceglie per il suo primo album natalizio un paio di inni antichi o poco conosciuti. “Let all that are to mirth inclined” è uno di questi, assente negli album confezionati per Natale e che corrisponde al “suo” concept-album natalizio.
Loreena McKennitt chooses for her first Christmas album a couple of ancient or little known hymns. “Let all that are to mirth inclined” is one of these, absent in the albums registred for Christmas and that corresponds to “her” Christmas concept-album.
Da bambina la mia impressione più vivida della musica invernale è nata dalle canzoni e dagli inni registrati nelle chiese o nelle grandi sale, ricche della propria unica atmosfera e tradizione. In quello spirito, mi sono recata in vari simili luoghi che ho imparato ad apprezzare nei miei viaggi”
“As a child my most vivid impression of music for the winter season came from songs and carols recorded in churches or great halls, rich with their own unique ambience and tradition. In that spirit, I have ventured into several similar locations that I have come to cherish in my travels.”

Il canto natalizio della tradizione inglese è un tipico canto del Presepe con la narrazione della nascita di Gesù in un umile grotta, l’omaggio dei pastori e dei re Magi, senonchè molti versi sono identici alla versione irlandese  “The Wexford carol”.
This Christmas carol of the English tradition is a typical song of the Nativity scene with the narration of the birth of Jesus in a humble cave, the homage of the shepherds and the Wise Men, although many verses are identical to the Irish version “The Wexford carol”.

Loreena McKennitt in “To drive the cold winter away” 1987

 

Enghish Traditional*
I
(Let all that are to mirth inclined)
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved Son
chorus
For to redeem our souls from thrall
Christ is the saviour of us all.
II
The twenty-fifth day of December
We have good cause to remember
In Bethlehem upon that morn
There was a blessed Messiah born
III
But mark how all things came to pass
The inn and lodgings filled was
That they could find no room at all
But in a straw-filled ox’s stall.
chorus
IV
Near Bethlehem some shepherds keep
Their flocks and herds of feeding sheep
To whom God’s angels did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear.
V
With thankful heart and joyful mind
The shepherds went this babe to find
And as the heavenly angel told
They did our saviour Christ behold.
chorus
VI
Three eastern wise men from afar
Directed by a glorious star
Came boldly on and made no stay
Until they came where Jesus lay.
VII
And being come unto that place
Where the blessed Messiah was
They humbly laid before his feet
Their gifts of gold and incense sweet.
chorus
VIII
See how the Lord of heaven and earth
Shewd himself lowly in his birth
A sweet example for mankind
To learn to bear an humble mind.
chorus
IX
Let all your songs and praises be
Unto his heavenly majesty
And evermore amongst our mirth
Remember Christ our Saviour’s birth. (1)
Repeat I
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
I
Fate tutto ciò che porta alla letizia
considerate bene e tenetelo in mente
ciò che il buon Dio ha fatto per noi,
nel mandare il suo amato Figlio
coro
Per redimere le nostre anime dalla schiavitù del peccato, Cristo è il salvatore di tutti noi
II
Il venticinque di Dicembre
abbiamo un buon motivo per ricordare
a Betlemme in quel mattino
è nato il Messia benedetto
III
Ma rammentate bene come andò,
la locanda e le camere erano pieni
che loro non trovarono una stanza
se non in una stalla di buoi tra la paglia
Coro
IV
Vicino a Betlemme dei pastori governavano le greggi (di agnelli) e le mandrie di pecore, si pararono innanzi gli angeli di Dio
a mettere i pastori in grande timore
V
Con cuore grato e pensiero gioioso
i pastori andarono a trovare quel bambino e come l’angelo del cielo disse videro il nostro Cristo Redentore
Coro
VI
C’erano tre uomini saggi d’Oriente da lontano
guidati da una stella luminosa
vennero arditamente e senza indugi
per arrivare fin dove stava Gesù
VII
E quando giunsero sul posto,
dove stava il Messia benedetto,
posarono umilmente ai suoi piedi
i loro doni d’oro e profumato incenso.
Coro
VIII
Vedete come il Signore del Cielo e della Terra
si mostrò povero nella sua nascita
un dolce esempio per l’umanità
per imparare a sopportare l’umiltà.
Coro
IX
Lasciate che tutti i vostri inni e le lodi
giungano alla sua maestà celeste
e per sempre con letizia
ricordate la nascita di Cristo il Salvatore (1)

NOTE
*Molti versi sono condivisi dal carol della tradizione irlandese “Wexford carol
Many verses are shared by the English carol “Wexford carol
1) la data del Natale di Gesù non fu festeggiata fino al 354 quando la Chiesa d’Occidente la fece coincidere con la festa romana e imperiale del Sole Invitto. Tuttavia in Oriente ancora per molto tempo la festa era celebrata il 6 gennaio (fino al VII secolo), così le chiese bizantine ricordano l’adorazione dei Magi già al 25 dicembre: essi rappresentavano più in generale tutto il genere umano che riconosce il Cristo come Salvatore
the date of Christmas of Jesus was not celebrated until 354 when the Church of the West made it coincide with the Roman and imperial festival of the Invitating Sun. However, in the East for a long time the party was celebrated on 6 January (up to the 7th century), so the Byzantine churches recall the adoration of the Magi as early as 25 December: they represented more generally the whole human race that recognizes Christ as Savior

LINK
http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/wexford_carol.htm
http://www.patrickcomerford.com/2011/12/christmas-poems-1-wexford-carol.html
http://www.celticchristmasmusic.com/christmas-traditions/kilmore-carols-in-ireland.htm
http://www.reginamundi.info/icone/nativita-palatina.asp

Lullay mine Liking

Carol of the fifteenth century preserved in the Sloane Manuscript is ideally the lullaby sung by Mary to the Child Jesus, which has come down to us only in the textual part. The lost melody has been re-proposed by several composers.
[Carol del XV secolo conservato nello Sloane Manuscript è idealmente la ninna-nanna cantata da Maria al Bambin Gesù, giunta sino a noi solo nella parte testuale. La melodia perduta è stata riproposta da svariati compositori.]

 Magpie Lane (Richard R. Terry version)

Artisan, (Gustav Holst version)

(Thomas H.B. Slawson version)

Early English
Refrain
Lullay, myn lykyng,
my dere sone, myn swetyng,
Lullay, my dere herte,
myn owyn dere derlyng.
I
I saw a fayr maydyn
syttyn and synge,
Sche lullyd a lytyl chyld,
a swete lordyng,
II
That eche lord is
that that made alle thinge,
Of alle lordis he is lord,
of alle kynges kyng.
III
Ther was mekyl melody
at that chyldes berthe,
Alle tho wern in hevene blys
thei made mekyl merthe,
IV
Aungelebryt thei song that nyt
and seydyn to that chyld,
“Blyssid be thou, and so be sche
that is bothe mek and myld”.
V
Prey we now to that chyld,
and to his moder dere,
Grawnt hem his blyssyng
that now makyn chere.


Refrain
Lullay, mine Liking,
my dear Son, mine Sweeting,
Lullay, my dear heart,
mine own dear darling.
I
I saw a fair maiden,
sitting and sing,
She lulled a little child
a sweet lording:
II
That very (eternal) lord is
He that made all things
Of all lords He is Lord
of ev’ry King He’s king.
III
There was mickle melody
at that Child’s birth,
All that were in heaven’s bliss,
they made mickle mirth.
IV
Angels bright they sang that night
and saiden to that Child,
“Blessed be Thou, and so be
she that is both meek and mild.”
V
Pray we now (un)to that Child,
and to His mother dear,
God grant them His blessing
that now maken cheer.
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
Ritornello
Ninna Nanna, amore mio
caro figlio mio, mio amato
Ninna Nanna, cuore mio
mio caro tesoro
I
Vidi una vergine fanciulla
seduta a cantare,
cullava un bambinello
un mite regnante
II
Questo vero Re è
colui che fece ogni cosa
di tutti i signori è Signore
e di tutti i Re è Re
III
C’era molta musica
alla nascita di quel bambino
tutta la felicità del Cielo
esultò
IV
Gli angeli radiosi cantarono quella notte
e dissero al bambinello
“Benedetto sei tu e anche
Lei che è mite e gentile”
V
Preghiamo ora per quel Bambino
e per la sua cara madre,
Dio concedi loro la tua Benedizione
che ora ci fa rallegrare

LINK
https://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/lullay_mine_liking.htm
https://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/lullay_myn_lykyng.htm
https://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/lullay_my_liking.htm
https://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/i_saw_a_fair_maiden.htm

Let Us the Infant Greet

Loreena McKennitt sceglie per il suo primo album natalizio un paio di inni antichi o poco conosciuti. “Let us the Infant greet” è uno di questi, assente negli album confezionati per Natale e che corrisponde al “suo” concept-album natalizio.
Loreena McKennitt chooses for her first Christmas album a couple of ancient or little known hymns. “Let us the Infant greet” is one of these, absent in the albums registred for Christmas and that corresponds to “her” Christmas concept-album.
Da bambina la mia impressione più vivida della musica invernale è nata dalle canzoni e dagli inni registrati nelle chiese o nelle grandi sale, ricche della propria unica atmosfera e tradizione. In quello spirito, mi sono recata in vari simili luoghi che ho imparato ad apprezzare nei miei viaggi”
“As a child my most vivid impression of music for the winter season came from songs and carols recorded in churches or great halls, rich with their own unique ambience and tradition. In that spirit, I have ventured into several similar locations that I have come to cherish in my travels.”

Il canto nasce nell’ Ottocento e probabilmente la melodia è un tradizionale natalizio dell’Herefordshire; è l’esortazione ai Cristiani di riunirsi in chiesa in occasione della nascita di Gesù Bambino per cantare lodi al Signore e confidare nella meritata ricompensa per una vita virtuosa e devota (dopo la morte).
The song was born in the nineteenth century and probably the melody is a traditional Christmas carol of Herefordshire; it is the exhortation to Christians to gather in church on the occasion of the birth of the Child Jesus to sing praises to the Lord and trust in the deserved reward for a virtuous and devoted life (after death).

Loreena McKennitt in “To Drive the Cold Winter Away” 1987


I
Let us the Infant greet,
In worship before Him fall,
And let us pay Him homage meet,
On this His Festival.
II
Let us to the Infant sing,
And bring Him of gifts rich store,
Let us honour our Infant King!
With praise forevermore.
III
Let us to the Infant kneel,
And love Him with faithful love,
And let our joyous anthems peal,
For Him who reigns above.
IV
Glad hymns in the Infant’s laud,
Sing we to Him while we may,
In heaven, where He is throned as God,
Our service He will pay.
V
Be we to the Infant true,
While we are dwelling on mould,
And He will give us our wages due,
A crown of purest gold (4)
Traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
I
Dobbiamo salutare il Bambinello,
cadere in adorazione davanti a Lui,
e dobbiamo rendergli omaggio riuniti,
in questa sua festività.
II
Dobbiamo cantare al Bambinello,
e portargli doni in abbondanza,
dobbiamo onorare il nostro Re Bambino e lodarlo in eterno.
III
Dobbiamo inginocchiarci davanti al Bambinello, e amarlo con amore devoto, e dobbiamo innalzare(1) i nostri gioiosi inni, per Colui che regna in cielo
IV
Lieti inni che lodano il Bambinello,
cantiamo a Lui finchè possiamo,
in Paradiso, dove Lui è in trono come Dio, il nostro servizio(2) Lui ci ricompenserà
V
(Dobbiamo) stare con il vero Bambinello,
mentre dimoriamo sulla terra (3),
e Lui ci darà la nostra giusta ricompensa,
una corona di oro zecchino (4)

NOTE
1) to peal si usa per il rintocco delle campane, o per descrivere un rimbombo, con una sola parola si visualizza il canto dei fedeli rinforzato dall’eco di una chiesa
2) il termine service (che traduce sia servizio che messa, funzione) rinforza l’immagine dei fedeli riuniti in chiesa per la Messa di Natale
3) la frase si ricollega alla Genesi quando l’uomo è stato modellato da Dio con il fango, si potrebbe anche tradurre (in senso più letterale): “mentre viviamo in questo calco” (mentre abitiamo in queste spoglie mortali)
4) in genere in questi canti natalizi è sempre evocata la morte di Gesù così la corona dei giusti richiama la corona di spine portata da Gesù  in Croce
usually in these Christmas songs the death of Jesus is always evoked, so the crown of the just recalls the crown of thorns brought by Jesus on the Cross

LINK
https://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/let_us_the_infant_greet.htm

“The two sisters” ballad: Binnorie

Leggi in italiano

The murder ballad “The two sisters” originates from Sweden or more generally from the Scandinavian countries (see “De två systrarna), but has spread widely also in some Eastern countries and in the British Isles

The variants in which it is present are many as well as the titles: The Twa Sisters, The Cruel Sister, The Bonnie Milldams of Binnorie, The Bonny Bows o’ London, Binnorie and Sister, Binnorie, Minnorie, Dear Sister, The Jealous Sister (Minorie), Bonnie Broom, Swan Swims Sae Bonny O, The Bonny Swans, Bow Your Bend to Me.

IL TRIANGOLO AMOROSO

It tells the story of a love triangle with two sisters who contend for the attentions of a handsome young man, once his choice falls on the blonde one, the other (by chance with black hair) to have him all for herself, she kills her sister, pushing her down a cliff (or from the bank of a river).

20121002205259a31
John Faed: Cruel Sister

A dear theme to many pre-Raphaelite painters and more generally a recurring theme in 19th century painters (thanks to Sir Walter Scott’s good offices); in the painting of the Scot John Faed (1851) entitled “Cruel Sister” it is summarized the whole drama of jealousy at the center of history (read motive); a prince with an exotic charm (what a feathered hat!) holds a blond girl dressed in white satin by the hand, not only does the prince look at her and tenderly shakes her hand, but also points to a little dog in the foreground, to say, “here I am faithful”. What a grace and sweetness is suffused in the girl who, with modesty, turns her gaze to the ground, but her cheeks are colorated, a sign of a profound emotion that disturbs her. The other girl is slightly backward compared to the two lovers and , afflicted by dark thoughts, she looks at the prince; even if she grasps to his arm she is clearly the third wheel. (note that while the two lovers move with the same step the black lady moves in forward the left foot).

To understand the whole story, here is a Scottish fairy tale called “The Singing Breastbone” (from Fair is Fair: World Folktales of Justice of Sharon Creeden see) that already in the title announces a “gothic” story.

 

 The Singing Breastbone (Binnorie)

ONCE upon a time there were two king’s daughters who lived in a bower near the bonny mill-dams of Binnorie. And Sir William came wooing the elder and won her love, and plighted troth with glove and with ring. But after a time he looked upon the younger sister, with her cherry cheeks and golden hair, and his love went out to her till he cared no longer for the elder one. So she hated her sister for taking away Sir William’s love, and day by day her hate grew and grew and she plotted add she planned how to get rid of her.

Katharine Cameron (scot, 1874–1965): She has taken her by the lily white hand binnorie o binnorie

So one fine morning, fair and clear, she said to her sister, ‘Let us go and see our father’s boats come in at the bonny mill-stream of Binnorie.’ So they went there hand in hand. And when they came to the river’s bank, the younger one got upon a stone to watch for the beaching of the boats. And her sister, coming behind her, caught her round the waist and dashed her into the rushing mill-stream of Binnorie.
‘O sister, sister, reach me your hand !’ she cried, as she floated away, ‘and you shall have half of all I’ve got or shall get.’
‘No, sister, I’ll reach you no hand of mine, for I am the heir to all your land. Shame on me if I touch her hand that has come ‘twixt me and my own heart’s love.’
‘O sister, O sister, then reach me your glove !’ she cried, as she floated further away, ‘and you shall have your William again.’
Sink on,’ cried the cruel princess, ‘no hand or glove of mine you’ll touch. Sweet William will be all mine when you are sunk beneath the bonny mill-stream of Binnorie.’ And she turned and went home to the king’s castle.
And the princess floated down the mill-stream, sometimes swimming and sometimes sinking, till she came near the mill. Now, the miller’s daughter was cooking that day, and needed water for her cooking. And as she went to draw it from the stream, she saw something floating towards the mill-dam, and she called out, ‘Father ! father ! draw your dam. There’s something white–a merrymaid or a milk-white swan–coming down the stream.’ So the miller hastened to the dam and stopped the heavy, cruel mill-wheels. And then they took out the princess and laid her on the bank.
Fair and beautiful she looked as she lay there. In her golden hair were pearls and precious stones; you could not see her waist for her golden girdle, and the golden fringe of her white dress came down over her lily feet. But she was drowned, drowned !

And as she lay there in her beauty a famous harper passed by the mill-dam of Binnorie, and saw her sweet pale face. And though he travelled on far away, he never forgot that face, and after many days he came back to the bonny mill-stream of Binnorie. But then all he could find of her where they had put her to rest were her bones and her golden hair. So he made a harp out of her breast-bone and her hair, and travelled on up the hill from the mill-dam of Binnorie till he came to the castle of the king her father.
binnorie_2_by_tanmorna-d5fxw2h

That night they were all gathered in the castle hall to hear the great harper–king and queen, their daughter and son, Sir William, and all their Court. And first the harper sang to his old harp, making them joy and be glad, or sorrow and weep, just as he liked. But while he sang, he put the harp he had made that day on a stone in the hall. And presently it began to sing by itself, low and clear, and the harper stopped and all were hushed.
And this is what the harp sung:
‘O yonder sits my father, the king,
Binnorie, O Binnorie;
And yonder sits my mother, the queen;
By the bonny mill-dams o’ Binnorie.

‘And yonder stands my brother Hugh,
Binnorie, O Binnone;
And by him my William, false and true;
By the bonny mill-dams o’ Binnorie.’

Then they all wondered, and the harper told them how he had seen the princess lying drowned on the bank near the bonny mill-dams o’ Binnorie, and how he had afterwards made his harp out of her hair and breast-bone. Just then the harp began singing again, and this is what it sang out loud and clear:
‘And there sits my sister who drowned me
By the bonny mill-dams o’ Binnorie.’

And the harp snapped and broke, and never sang more.

Giordano Dall’Armellina writes in his essay: “Summing up the English and the Scandinavian versions a hundred texts have been calculated: it is as if every singer had fun inventing something different to distinguish himself from the others. In some Norwegian variants the harp crash into many pieces and the blond princess returns to life while her black-haired sister is either burned alive or buried alive as a punishment for the crime committed.
In another, always Norwegian, the bones of the girl are used to make a flute that is brought to her family to make it play by everyone. When the cruel sister plays it, the blood gushes from it, thus denouncing her guilt. It follows a punishment: the sister is condemned to be tied to four horses that leave in four distinct directions and that will cut her to pieces. In a Swedish version the miller saves the girl and brings her back to her family. In the end the blond princess will forgive her sister for the attempted murder” (translated from Giordano  Dell’Armellina: “Ballate Europee da Boccaccio a Bob Dylan”.)

As usual, the fairy tale lends itself to multiple readings outside the text, symbolism focuses on the meaning of the bones, the swan and the water element (see) and yet in the American version the ballad becomes a more typical murder ballad

FIRST VERSION: BINNORIE

In Scotland the ballad was printed in 1656 under the title “The Miller and the King’s Daughter” (see) and then ended in the Child Ballads, (# 10), in his “The English and Scottish Popular Ballads”: the versions in Child are about twenty to underline the wide popularity and diffusion of the story (and also for the melodies there are many versions).

The version analyzed, however is that of Sir Walter Scott (in “Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border” 1802 see ) who with his books helped to reawaken the interest of contemporaries towards Medievalism.
The text is rich in Scottish terms, the plot is very similar to the fairy tale “The Singing Breastbone” of which the ballad seems to be the sung version, the tragic epilogue is tinged with magic with the bones of the girl become musical instrument to unmask the killer.

Custer LaRue&Baltimore Consort in The Daemon Lover, 1993 a medieval version


There were twa sisters sat in a bow’r(1)
Binnorie, O Binnorie (2)
There cam a knight to be their wooer.

By the bonnie mill-dams of Binnorie .
He courted the eldest wi’ glove and ring (3)/But he lo’ed the youngest aboon a’thing.
The eldest she was vexed sair
And sore envied her sister fair.
The eldest said to the youngest ane:
“Will you go and see our father’s ships come in”
She’s ta’en her by the lily hand
And led her down to the river strand.
The youngest stude upon a stane
The eldest cam’ and pushed her in.
“Oh sister, sister reach your hand
And ye shall be heir of half my land”
“Oh sister, I’ll not reach my hand
And I’ll be heir of all your land.”
“Oh sister, reach me but your glove
And sweet William shall be your love.”
“Sink on, nor hope for hand or glove
And sweet William shall better be my love.”
Sometimes she sunk, sometimes she swam
Until she cam to the miller’s dam.
The miller’s daughter was baking bread
And gaed for water as she had need.
“O father, father, draw your dam!
There’s either a mermaid or a milk-white swan (4).”
The miller hasted and drew his dam
And there he found a drown’d woman.
Ye couldna see her yellow hair
For gowd and pearls that were sae rare.
Ye coldna see her middle sma’
Her gowden girdle was sae braw.
Ye couldna see her lily feet
Her gowden fringes were sae deep.
A famous harper passing by
The sweet pale face he chanced to spy.
And when he looked that lady on
He sighed, and made a heavy moan.
He made a harp (5) o’ her breast bone
Whose sounds would melt a heart of stone.
The strings he framed of her yellow hair,/Their notes made sad the listening ear.
He brought it to her father’s ha’
There was the court assembled there.
He layed the harp upon a stane (6)
And straight it began to play alane.
“O yonder sits my father the King
And yonder sits my mother, the queen.”
“And yonder stands my brother Hugh
And by him, my William, sweet and true.”
But the last tune that the harp played then
Was: “Woe to my sister, false Helen”
NOTE
1) in the Middle Ages, bower indicated the private room of the lady of the castle, not exactly the bedroom when the room in which she stayed with her maidservants.
2) Scott replaces the refrain “Edinburgh, Edinburgh” inspired by the battle of Binnorie (to commemorate the Scottish wars of independence)
3) Giving the ring and the glove in medieval times was a promise of marriage. To be courted was the older sister, it was a matter of a arranged marriage. in which however the young falls in love with the younger sister
4)  The comparison emphasizes the purity and innocence of the girl who is presumed not to have encouraged the advances of the suitor.
5)  a magical harp, in fact, as soon as it is placed on a stone, it begins to sing alone. Here we refer to the Viking belief that the soul resides in the bones (the bones of the dead accuse their murderers). The killer sister who was about to marry, is unmasked by her sister’s ghost and will surely be punished as she deserves.
It is reasonable to assume that in the Scandinavian versions the instrument was in reality an arched crwth or lyra: also called “Germanic crwth” – to underline its northern origin – the instrument can also be equipped with a central keyboard and you play with the bow being probably the ancestor of the violin. In Wales it is called crwth (while in Ireland it is called cruith) and the central keyboard bears six strings, two of which the drone strings (“loafer string”). This instrument, which scholars are uncertain if they consider it to be completely indigenous and attributed to the Scandinavian area, (see)
6) referring to the ability of the harp to soften a heart of stone (black heart) so its magic song begins only when they placed it on a stone

Dorothy Carter with hammer dulcimer

LINK
Giordano  Dell’Armellina in “Racconti comuni in ballate italiane, svedesi e  britanniche: un confronto” see
Giordano  Dell’Armellina: “Ballate Europee da Boccaccio a Bob Dylan”.
http://members.chello.nl/r.vandijk2/ChildBallads010-019.html
http://www.antiwarsongs.org/canzone.php?id=49269&lang=it
http://walterscott.eu/education/ballads/supernatural-ballads/the-cruel-sister/

Loreena McKennitt: Fear no more the heat o’ th’ sun

La canzone “Fear no more the heat o’ th’ sun” scritta da William Shakespeare per il Cimbellino viene musicata da Loreena McKennitt come brano di chiusura del suo album “The Visit” (1991) con il titolo di Cymbeline. E’ il lament inserito nell’atto IV scena II in forma di canto funebre cantata da due personaggi della commedia Guiderio e Arvirago a Imogene (l’eroina della storia) creduta morta – Imogene in realtà non è morta, ma più tardi si risveglia dalla catalessi dovuta all’ingestione di un medicamento.
The song “Fear no more the heat or ‘th’ sun” written by William Shakespeare for the Cymbeline is composed by Loreena McKennitt as a closing track of her album “The Visit” titled “Cymbeline”. It is the dirge included in Act IV scene II (lines 258-281) sung by two characters of the comedy, Guiderius and Arviragus, to Imogene (the heroine of the story) believed dead.
Quale sia l’intricata storia della commedia non è rilevante alla comprensione del testo essendo il canto semplicemente un memento mori: alle passioni e all’infuriare della vita segue la serenità della morte, da cui l’ammonimento a condurre la vita secondo valori spirituali che permettano di conseguire la pace eterna.
Whatever Shakespeare’s comedy, it is not relevant to the understanding of the text, being the song simply a memento mori: to the passions and to enrage of life follows the serenity of death, from which the admonition to lead our life according to spiritual values for achieving the eternal peace.

Così scrive Loreena nelle note: Ecco i pensieri di William Shakespeare su questa visita terrena. Questa canzone si svolge verso la fine della sua commedia Cimbellino, scritta verso la fine della vita dell’autore. E’ ambientato nell’antica Britannia quando i Romani stavano invadendo l’ultimo avamposto rimasto del vecchio ordine celtico.
” Here are William Shakespeare’s thoughts on this earthly visit. This song occurs toward the end of his romance Cymbeline, which was written near the end of the author’s life. The play is set in ancient Britain when the Romans were invading the last remaining outpost of the old Celtic order” (LMK).

Loreena McKennitt in The Visit 1991
Live In Paris And Toronto


I
Fear no more the heat o’ th’ sun
Nor the furious winters’ rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages (1).
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust(2).
riff
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this and come to dust.
II
Fear no more the frown o’ th’ great;
Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke (3).
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak.
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this and come to dust.
riff
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee and come to dust.
Traduzione italiano*
I (Guiderio)
Più non temere del sol la calura,
non la tempesta dell’inverno furiosa.
Hai assolto nel mondo ogni tua cura,
a casa sei andato, paga hai generosa.
Ragazzi e fanciulle che paiono d’oro,
come chi spazza i camini per loro,
in polvere deve ciascuno tornare.
inciso
Re, medico, dotto ti devon seguire;
in polvere deve ciascuno tornare.
II (Arvirago)
L’ira dei grandi più non temere,
non può dei tiranni toccarti condanna.
Più non curar di vestire e mangiare,
come una quercia è per te ogni canna.
Re, medico, dotto ti devon seguire;
in polvere deve ciascuno tornare.
inciso
Gli amanti giovani, gli amanti tutti,
in polvere deve ciascuno tornare.

NOTE
tratta da qui
le frasi dell’inciso sono state estrapolate da Loreena dalla canzone “Fear no more the heat o’ the sun”  scritta da William Shakespeare per il Cimbellino
the sentences of the riff were extrapolated from Loreena by the song “Fear no more the heat or ‘the sun” written by William Shakespeare for the Cymbeline
1) sei ritornato a casa e sei stato ricompensato
you returned home and you have been rewarded
2) polvere-morte sono il binomio dei vari riti funebri
dust-death are the binomial of the various funeral rites
3) richiamo alla persecuzione attuata da Cimbellino, re dei Britanni  nei confronti della figlia Imogene
reference to the persecution carried out by Cymbeline, king of the Britons against his daughter Imogene

Loreena McKennitt- Full Circle

Che cosa spinge un uomo a donarsi completamente a Dio per diventare suo strumento? Può la musica toccare la nostra memoria ancestrale?
What drives a man to give himself completely to God to become his instrument? Can music touch our ancestral memory?

E la voce di Loreena s’innalza come una nenia araba con una purezza cristallina quanto ineffabile nel brano “Full circle” (in italiano Punto di partenza) nell’album The Mask and Mirror, un brano  onnipresente nei suoi successivi live probabilmente la cifra più perfetta delle sue atmosfere rarefatte, impalpabili e fantasy.
And the voice of Loreena rises like an Arab lullaby with a crystalline purity like ineffable in the song “Full circle” in the album The Mask and Mirror, an omnipresent piece in her following lives probably the most perfect of its rarefied, impalpable and fantasy atmospheres.

Il viaggio verso la spiritualità è un percorso circolare e inevitabilmente si finisce per ritornare al punto di partenza. Più del testo parla però la musica.
The journey to spirituality is a circular path and inevitably ends up returning to the starting point. More than the text, however, speaks her music.

Loreena McKennitt in The Mask and Mirror, 1994


I
Stars were falling deep in the darkness
As prayers rose softly, petals at dawn (1)
And as I listened, your voice seemed so clear
So calmly you were calling your god
II
Somewhere the sun rose o’er dunes in the desert
Such was the stillness (2) I ne’er felt before
Was this the question pulling, pulling, pulling you?
In your heart, in your soul, did you find peace there?
III
Elsewhere a snowfall, the first in the winter (3)
Covered the ground as the bells filled the air
You in your robes sang, calling, calling, calling him
In your heart, in your soul, did you find peace there?
In your heart, in your soul, did you find peace there?
Traduzione in italiano Cattia Salto
I
Le stelle precipitavano al fondo dell’oscurità, mentre le preghiere s’innalzavano, lievi petali nell’aurora, e mentre ascoltavo, le vostre voci sembrava cosi chiare, invocavate il vostro Dio così serenamente.
II
Da qualche parte il sole sorgeva sulle dune del deserto
un tale silenzio non l’avevo mai sentito prima.
Era questo il dubbio che vi chiamava?
Nel vostro cuore, nella vostra anima,
avete trovato la pace lì?
III
Altrove una nevicata, la prima dell’inverno
copriva la terra mentre le campane riempivano il cielo
voi nelle vostre tonache (4) cantavate invocando, invocando, invocandolo.
Nel vostro cuore, nella vostra anima, avete trovato la pace lì?
Nel vostro cuore, nella vostra anima, avete trovato la pace lì?

NOTE
1) sono i canti nelle Moschee, così scrive Loreena: (23 marzo 1993, Marocco: Ramadan) Mi sveglio presto per prendere il volo di ritorno a casa e alle 5:30 sento degli uomini che cantano nella moschea, uno dei suoni più commoventi e primitivi che abbia mai sentito. Stanno chiamando il loro Dio.
March 23, 1993, Morocco: Ramadan; I wake up early to catch my flight home, and at 5:30 a.m. hear men chanting in the mosque, one of the most moving and primitive sounds I have ever heard. They are calling their God.
2) E’ il deserto come la distesa del mare, il luogo del grande vuoto e dell’eterno movimento che sembra risuonare nella memoria ancestrale, uno scampolo di divinità dentro di noi?
Is it the desert like the expanse of the sea, the place of the great emptiness and of the eternal movement that seems to resound in the ancestral memory, a remnant of divinity within us?
(19 marzo 1993, Marocco) mi facevo strada verso le dune di sabbia a un migliaio di metri oltre Erfoud, vicino al deserto algerino, e mi alzai all’alba per prendere il sole. Non penso di aver mai sentito qualcosa di così semplice eppure così potente. Mi chiedevo se la prima alba fosse proprio così.
March 19, 1993, Morocco: made my way to the thousand-foot sand dune past Erfoud, near the Algerian desert, and rose at dawn to catch the sun rise. I don’t think I have ever felt something so simple and yet so powerful. I wondered if the first sunrise was just like this.
3) (21 novembre 1988, St-Benoit-du-Lac, Québec:) sono appena arrivata in questo monastero benedettino nel Cantone orientale del Québec. Oggi era il primo giorno di neve, e i frati erano usciti a camminare per il lungo viale mentre mi avvicinavo … figure incappucciate che lentamente si dirigevano verso la Messa mentre la neve cadeva come benedizioni. Ho seguito il suono delle campane ai vespri.
November 21, 1988, St-Benoit-du-Lac, Québec: have just arrived at this Benedictine monastery in the Eastern Townships of Québec. It was the first snowfall today, and the brothers were out walking along the long lane as I approached…hooded figures slowly making their way to Mass as the snow fell like blessings. I followed the sound of the bells to vespers.
4) robe è un termine generico che si usa anche nell’espressione italiana prendere l’abito per intendere  i voti, ho tradotto più esplicitamente con tonaca, oppure anche saio

Lady Greensleeves

Leggi in italiano

Greensleeves is a song coming from the English Renaissance (with undeniable Italian musical influences) that tells us about the courtship of a very rich gentleman and a Lady who rejects him, despite the generous gifts.

It was the year 1580 when Richard Jones and Edward White competed for prints of a fashion song, Jones with “A new Northern Dittye of the Lady Greene Sleeves” and White with “A ballad, being the Ladie Greene Sleeves Answere to Donkyn his frende “, then after a few days, White again with another version:” Greene Sleeves and Countenance, in Countenance is Greene Sleeves “and a few months later Jones with the publication of” A merry newe “Northern Songe of Greene Sleeves” ; this time the reply came from William Elderton, who wrote the “Reprehension against Greene Sleeves” in February 1581.
Finally, the revised and expanded version by Richard Jones with the title “A New Courtly Sonnet of the Lady Green Sleeves” included in the collection ‘A Handeful of Pleasant Delites‘ of 1584, was the one that became the final version, still performed today (at least as regards the melody and for most of the text with 17 stanzas).

The Melody

The melody is born for lute, the instrument par excellence of Renaissance (and baroque) music that has seen in England a fine flowering with the likes of John Jonson and John Dowland. As evidenced in the in-depth study of Ian Pittaway the ancestor of Greensleeves is the old Passamezzo.
By the late 15th century, plucked instruments such as the lute were just beginning to develop a new technique to add to their repertoire of playing styles, chordal playing, leading the way for grounds to be chordal rather than the single notes of the mediaeval period. One of the chordal grounds that developed was the passamezzo antico, meaning old passamezzo (there was also the passamezzo moderno), which began in Italy in the early 16th century before it spread through Europe. It’s a little like the blues today in that you have a basic, unchanging chord sequence and, on top of that, a melody is added. (from here)
The chorus of Greensleeves however follows the melodic trend of a  Romanesca which in turn is a variant of the passamezzo.

lute melody in “Het Luitboek van Thysius” written by Adriaen Smout for the Netherlands in 1595

Baltimore Consort  instrumental version in Renaissance style for dancing

We find a choreography of the dance  only in later times, in the “English Dancing Master” by John Playford (both in the edition of 1686 and then published several times in the eighteenth century) as an English country dance

The Legend

anne-boleyn-roseIn 1526 Henry VIII wrote “Greensleeves” for Anna Bolena, right at the beginning of their relationship.
A suggestive hypothesis because both the melody that the text well suited to the character, that of his own he wrote several piece still today in the repertoire of many artists of ancient music; however the poem was not transcribed in any manuscript of the time and therefore we can not be certain of this attribution.
The misunderstanding was generated by William Chappell who in his “Popular Music of the Olden Time” (London: Chappell & Co, 1859) attributes the melody to the king, misinterpreting a quote by Edward Guilpin. “Yet like th ‘Olde ballad of the Lord of Lorne, Whose last line in King Harries dayes was borne.” (In Skialethia, or Shadow of Truth, 1598: the ballad “The Lord of Lorne and the False Steward” dates back to time of Henry VIII (King Harries) and, according to Chappell has always been sung on the melody Greensleeves.

The Tudor serie + The Broadside Band & Jeremy Barlow

Gregorian“,  ( I, III, VIII, IX)

Irish origins!?

William Henry Grattan Flood in A History of Irish Music (Dublin: Browne and Nolan, 1905) was the first to assume (without giving evidence) the irish origins. “In a manuscript in Trinity College, Dublin … Under date of 1566, there is a manuscript Love Song (without music), written by Donal, first Earl of Clancarty. A few years previously, an Anglo-Irish Song was written to the tune of Greensleeves.
Since then the idea of Irish paternity has become more and more vigorous so much so that this song is present in the compilations of Celtic music labeled as irish traditional.

lady-greensleeves

A courting song or a dirty trick?

Walter+Crane-My+Lady+Greensleeves+-+(1)-S
Roberto Venturi observes in his essay
Already at the time of Geoffrey Chaucer and the Tales of Canterbury (remember that Chaucer lived from 1343 to 1400) the green dress was considered typical of a “light woman”, that is a prostitute. She would therefore be a young woman of promiscuous customs; Nevill Coghill, the famous and heroic modern English translator of the Canterbury Tales, explains – referring to an interpretation of a Chaucerian step – that, at the time, the green color had precise sexual connotations, particularly in the phrase A green gown. It was the dress of a woman with some grass spots, who practiced (or suffered) a sexual intercourse in a meadow. If a woman was said to have “the green skirt”, in practice it was a whore.
The song would then be the lamentation of a betrayed and abandoned lover, or of a rejected customer; in short, you know, something far from regal (although in every age the kings were generally the first whoremongers of the Kingdom). Another possible interpretation is that the lover betrayed, or rejected, has wanted to revenge on the poor woman by devoting to her a delicious little song in which he calls her a whore through the metaphor of the “green sleeves” (translated from here)

Many interpreters, with versions both in ancient than modern style (also Yngwie Malmsteen plays it with his guitar and Leonard Cohen proposes a rewrite in 1974)
Today the text is rarely performed and only for two or four stanzas, but it is a song loved by choral groups that sing it more extensively.

In ‘A Handful of Pleasant Delites’, 1584, from the collection of Israel G. Young (about twenty strophe see) all the gifts that the nobleman makes to his Lady to court her:  “kerchers to thy head”, “board and bed”, “petticoats of the best”, “jewels to thy chest”, “smock of silk”, “girdle of gold”, “pearls”, “purse”, “guilt knives”, “pin case”, “crimson stockings all of silk”, “pumps as white as was the milk”, “gown of the grassy green” with “sleeves of satin”, but also “men clothed all in green” and “dainties”!

So many versions (see) and a difficult choice, but here is:

Alice Castle live 2005

 Loreena  McKennitt in The Visit 1991 (I, III) interpreted “as if she were singing Tom Waits

Jethro Tull  in Christmas Album 2003 (instrumental version)

David Nevue amazing piano version!


chorus (1)
Greensleeves(2) was all my joy
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves my heart of gold
And who but my lady Greensleeves.
I
Alas, my love, you do me wrong,
To cast me off discourteously(3).
For I have loved you well and long,
Delighting in your company.
II
Your vows you’ve  broken, like my heart,
Oh, why did you so enrapture me?
Now I remain in a world apart
But my heart remains in captivity.
III
I have been ready at  your hand,
To grant whatever you would crave,
I have both wagered life and land,
Your love and good-will for to have.
IV
Thy petticoat of sendle(4) white
With gold embroidered gorgeously;
Thy petticoat of silk and white
And these I bought gladly.
V
If you intend thus to  disdain,
It does the more enrapture me,
And even so, I still remain
A lover in captivity.
VI
My men were clothed all in green,
And they did ever wait on thee;
All this was gallant to be seen,
And yet thou wouldst not love me.
VII
Thou couldst desire no earthly thing,
but still thou hadst it readily.
Thy music still to play and sing;
And yet thou wouldst not love me.
VIII
Well, I will pray to God on high,
that thou my constancy mayst see,
And that yet once before I die,
Thou wilt vouchsafe to love me.
IX
Ah, Greensleeves, now farewell, adieu,
To God I pray to prosper thee,
For I am still thy lover true,
Come once again and love me
NOTE
1) the first two sentences are sometimes reversed and start in the opposite direction
2) In the Middle Ages the green color was the symbol of regeneration and therefore of youth and physical vigor, meant “fertility” but also “hope” and with gold indicating pleasure. It was the color of medicine for its revitalizing powers. Color of love in the nascent stage, in the Renaissance it was the color used by the young especially in May; in women it was also the color of chastity.
But the other more promiscuous meaning is of “light woman always ready to roll in the grass”. And the charm of the ballad lies in its ambiguity!
Green is also the color that in fairy tales / ballads connotes a fairy creature.
The Gaelic words “Grian Sliabh” (literally translated as “sun mountain” or a “mountain exposed to the south, sunny”) are pronounced Green Sleeve (the song is also very popular in Ireland especially as slow air). Grian is also the name of a river that flows from Sliabh Aughty (County Clare and Galway)
3) the expressions are proper to the courtly lyric
4) sendal= light silk material

in the extended version the gifts of the suitor are many and expensive and it is all a complaint about “oh how much you costs me my dear!”

“Extended version
IV
I bought three kerchers to thy head,
That were wrought fine and gallantly;
I kept them both at board and bed,
Which cost my purse well-favour’dly.
V
I bought thee petticoats of the best,
The cloth so fine as fine might be:
I gave thee jewels for thy chest;
And all this cost I spent on thee.
VI
Thy smock of silk both fair and white,
With gold embroidered gorgeously;
Thy petticoat of sendall right;
And this I bought thee gladly.
VII
Thy girdle of gold so red,
With pearls bedecked sumptously,
The like no other lasses had;
And yet you do not love me!
VIII
Thy purse, and eke thy gay gilt knives,
Thy pin-case, gallant to the eye;
No better wore the burgess’ wives;
And yet thou wouldst not love me!
IX
Thy gown was of the grassy green,
The sleeves of satin hanging by;
Which made thee be our harvest queen;
And yet thou wouldst not love me!
X
Thy garters fringed with the gold,
And silver aglets hanging by;
Which made thee blithe for to behold;
And yet thou wouldst not love me!
XI
My gayest gelding thee I gave,
To ride wherever liked thee;
No lady ever was so brave;
And yet thou wouldst not love me!
XII
My men were clothed all in green,
And they did ever wait on thee;
All this was gallant to be seen;
And yet thou wouldst not love me!
XIII
They set thee up, they took thee down,
They served thee with humility;
Thy foot might not once touch the ground;
And yet thou wouldst not love me!
XIV
For every morning, when thou rose,
I sent thee dainties, orderly,
To cheer thy stomach from all woes;
And yet thou wouldst not love me!

SOURCE
https://www.antiwarsongs.org/canzone.php?id=53904&lang=it
http://greensleeves-hubs.hubpages.com/hub/FolkSongGreensleeves-Greensleeves   http://thesession.org/tunes/1598
http://ingeb.org/songs/alasmylo.html
http://tudorhistory.org/topics/music/greensleeves.html
http://earlymusicmuse.com/greensleeves1of3mythology/
http://earlymusicmuse.com/greensleeves2of3history/
http://earlymusicmuse.com/greensleeves3of3music/
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/alas-madame.htm

Bonny Portmore: the ornament tree

Leggi in italiano

When the great oak of Portmore was break down in 1760, someone wrote a song known as “The Highlander’s Farewell to Bonny Portmore“; in 1796 Edward Bunting picked it up from Daniel Black, an old harpist from Glenoak (Antrim, Northern Ireland), and published it in “Ancient Music of Ireland” – 1840.
The age-old oak was located on the estate of Portmore’s Castle on the banks of Lugh Bege and it was knocked down by a great wind; the tree was already famous for its posture and was nicknamed “the ornament tree“. The oak was cut and the wood sold, from the measurements made we know that the trunk was 13 meters wide.

LOUGH PORTMORE

1032910_tcm9-205039Loch un Phoirt Mhóir (lake with a large landing place) is an almost circular lake in the South-West of Antrim County, Northern Ireland, today a nature reserve for bird protection.
The property formerly belonged to the O’Neill clan of Ballinderry, while the castle was built in 1661 or 1664 by Lord Conway (on the foundations of an ancient fortress) between Lough Beg and Lough Neagh; the estate was rich in centenarian trees and beautiful woods; however, the count fell into ruin and lost the property when he decided to drain Lake Ber to cultivate the land (the drainage system called “Tunny cut” is still existing); the ambitious project failed and the land passed into the hands of English nobles.
In other versions more simply the Count’s dynasty became extinct and the new owners left the estate in a state of neglect, since they did not intend to reside in Ireland. Almost all the trees were cut down and sold as timber for shipbuilding and the castle fell into disrepair.

Bonny Portmore could be understood symbolically as the decline of the Irish Gaelic lords: pain and nostalgia mixed in a lament of a twilight beauty; the dutiful tribute goes to Loreena McKennitt who brought this traditional iris  song to the international attention.
Loreena McKennitt in The Visit 1991
Nights from the Alhambra: live

CHORUS
O bonny Portmore,
you shine where you stand
And the more I think on you the more I think long
If I had you now as I had once before
All the lords in Old England would not purchase Portmore.
I
O bonny Portmore, I am sorry to see
Such a woeful destruction of your ornament tree
For it stood on your shore for many’s the long day
Till the long boats from Antrim came to float it away.
II
All the birds in the forest they bitterly weep
Saying, “Where will we shelter or where will we sleep?”
For the Oak and the Ash (1), they are all cutten down
And the walls of bonny Portmore are all down to the ground.
NOTE
1) coded phrase to indicate the decline of the Gaelic lineage clans

Laura Marling live
Laura Creamer

Lucinda Williams in Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys ANTI 2006


Dan Gibson & Michael Maxwell in Emerald Forest instrumental version
And here I open a small parenthesis recalling a personal episode of a long time ago in which I met an ancient tree: at the time I lived in Florence and I had the opportunity to turn a bit for Tuscany, now I can not remember the location, but I know that I was in the Colli Senesi and it was summer; someone advised us to go and see an old holm oak, explaining roughly to the road; in the distance it seemed we were approaching a grove, in reality it was a single tree whose foliage was so leafy and vast, the old branches so bent, that to get closer to the trunk we had to bow. I still remember after many years the feeling of a presence, a deep and vital breath, and the discomfort that I tried to disturb the place. I do not exaggerate speaking of fear at all, and I think that feeling was the same feeling experienced by the ancient man, who felt in the centenarian trees the presence of a spirit.
SOURCE
http://www.angelfire.com/ca/immie/bonny.html
http://www.sentryjournal.com/2010/10/11/the-fate-of-bonny-portmore/
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=15567
http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/p/portmorelough/about.aspx