Friday, 13 June 2008

Summer is icumen in, loudly sing Cuckoo!

IM002577 For many, the first cuckoo signals the true start of summer. For me, it is probably the arrival of the staff tee-shirts for Holiday Bible Club, from Genesis.

I really cannot fault this company for their efficiency, helpfulness and good prices. we have been getting teeshirts and more from them for about 10 years now and they are SO reliable.

We sang 'Summer is icumen in' as a round when I was at school, and I knew that the mice in Bagpuss sing a version of it too.

Summer has come in,
Loudly sing, Cuckoo!
The seed grows and the meadow blooms
And the wood springs anew,
Sing, Cuckoo!
The ewe bleats after the lamb,
The cow lows after the calf.
The bullock stirs, the buck-goat turns,
Merrily sing, Cuckoo!
Cuckoo, cuckoo, well you sing, cuckoo;
Don't you ever stop now,
Sing cuckoo now!

What I have only just discovered is that this round,believed to be one of the oldest forms of English counterpoint round in existence, also has Latin Christian words.

Perspice Christicola
que dignacio
Celicus agricola
pro uitis vicio
non parcens exposuit mortis exicio
Qui captiuos semiuiuos a supplicio
Vite donat et secum coronat
in celi solio

Which probably sounds much more euphonious when it is sung than the English translation

Observe, Christian, such honour!
The heavenly farmer,
due to a defect in the vine,
not sparing the Son,
exposed him to the destruction of death.
To the captives half-dead from torment,
He gives them life and crowns them with himself
on the throne of heaven.

Apparently nobody is quite sure which came first, the secular or Christian lyrics. If you want the Bagpuss words or the Ezra Pound parody, you will have to look them up for yourself!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Always glad to hear from you - thanks for stopping by!
I am blocking anonymous comments now, due to excessive spam!