December 20, 2014

Poem: I Sing of a Maiden (I Syng of a Mayden)

Painting by Bartolme Esteban Murillo - Wikipedia 

I Sing of a Maiden (I Syng of a Mayden) is an anonymous English poem which dates back to a 15th century manuscript, but likely goes back in oral tradition much further. Based upon the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary found in Luke 1:26-38, it is considered by scholars to be one of the finest examples of Middle English lyrics. I Sing of a Maiden is included in the Poems for Advent and Christmas Appendix of the Divine Office (1974).

Setting by Patrick Hadley (1899-1973)

I SING OF A MAIDEN (Anonymous)

I sing of a maiden
That is matchless;
King of all Kings
For her Son she chose.

He came all so still,
Where His mother was,
Adv As dew in April
That falleth on the grass.

He came all so still
To His mother's bowr,
As dew in April
That falleth on flower.

He came all so still,
Where His mother lay,
As dew in April
That falleth on the spray.

Mother and maiden
Was ne'er none but she;
Well may such a lady
Godes mother be.

December 14, 2014

O Felix Culpa (Adam Lay Ybounden)

15th Century Painting by Berthold Furtmeyr - Courtesy Wikipedia

O Felix Culpa is an anonymous English poem which dates back to a 15th century manuscript, but likely goes back in oral tradition much further. Scholars have suggested that it may be an example of a minstrel's begging song or that it was intended for use in a mystery play. The Latin phrase felix culpa is often translated as "happy fault," and is derived from the writings of St. Augustine regarding the Fall of Man and original sin. O Felix Culpa is included in the Poems for Advent and Christmas Appendix of the Divine Office (1974).


Setting by Boris Ord (1897-1961), performed by Kings College Choir

O FELIX CULPA (Anonymous, 15th century)

Adam lay y-bounden,
   Bounden in a bond;
Four thousand winter
   Thought he not too long;
And all was for an apple,
   An apple that he took,
As clerkès finden written
   In theirè book.
Ne had one apple taken been,
   The apple taken been,
Then haddè never Our Lady
   A been heaven's queen.
Blessed be the time
   That apple taken was!
Therefore we may singen
   'Deo Gratias!'

November 29, 2014

Poem: Of the Birth of Christ

Painting by Gerard van Honthorst - Courtesy of Wikipedia

Of the Birth of Christ is a translation by Edgar Allison Peers (1891-1952) of a poem by St. John of the Cross (1542-1591). Peers published a number of translations of Spanish works into English, including the complete writings of St John of the Cross and of St Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582). Of the Birth of Christ is included in the Poems for All Seasons Appendix of the Divine Office (1974). The complete text can be found here.