"Sumer Is Icumen In" in Latin??
  • Maureen
    Posts: 662
    I've listened to a lot of early music, I took Middle English, I've taken a lot of English classes, and I've even bought songbooks with hand-drawn imitations of the original "Sumer Is Icumen In" ms. Also, I've read a good few books on medieval Latin poetry.

    So... how come I never heard that "Sumer Is Icumen In" had a Latin song to the same tune written directly underneath "Sumer", in very hard to miss red letters?

    It's a nice sort of reference to the "Song of the Vineyard" in Isaiah and the Passion of Christ, and it's got snappy rhymes, and... why, garsh, it's also associated with one of the most famous tunes ever. So what's the big secrecy thing??

    Sigh. This is right up there with finding out that Dryden had all those la la's because he was writing pop songs and librettos, and that Cavalier songs make a lot more sense if you get to hear their tunes. And heck, it took years enough for anybody to let on that "Sumer" had a tune, because why on earth would the history of English poetry want to tell you a music fact.

    People are always leaving out important facts! It never stops! It makes me want to swear off all secondary sources!
  • What interesting, if perhaps a tad saucy, observations! How often we fail to realize that our ancestors were People! And! (This is a turnabout ...) Have we a secular song that started out as a sacred one?
  • Maureen
    Posts: 662
    Apparently, opinions differ on which came first, the summer or the vineyard. :) And there's a nice paper that points out that both songs do reflect on each other, thanks to scriptural references in the sacred song possibly "unfolding" the secular one, and that there's some parallels to celebrating summer vs celebrating the post-Resurrection 'summer' of Christians living a life of faith, and the post-Resurrection and Judgment 'summer' of living on the new earth in glorified bodies. There's also a lot of interest in the possible allegorical meanings of cuckoos, beyond the obvious funny one. :)

    Yay for the revival of Philology, and for academic articles that you can actually read all the way through!

    "Mood Imperative: The Cuckoo, the Latin Lyrics, and the Cuckoo Song"
  • G
    Posts: 1,391
    "It makes me want to swear off all secondary sources!"

    Hear, hear! (Did we dine at the same table on the last evening of the Colloquium? reliance on secondary sources is a pet peeve and I went off on a rant even though stone cold sober...)

    Save the Liturgy, Save the World!