School of Music
University of Nebraska--Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588-0100
(phone: [402] 472-2507; Internet: plefferts1@unl.edu)

Data entry: Jonathan Haupt
Checked by: Peter Slemon
Approved by: Peter M. Lefferts

Author: Anonymous
Title: A Chorister's Lament
Source: Thomas Wright and James O. Halliwell, eds., Reliquiae Antiquae: scraps from ancient manuscripts, illustrating chiefly early English literature and the English language, 2 vols. (London: J. R. Smith, 1845), 1:291-92.

[-291-] An Old English Song

Un-comly in cloystre. i coure ful of care,
I loke as a lurdeyn. and listne til my lare,
The song of the cesolfa. dos me syken sare,
And sitte stotiand on a song. a moneth and mare.
I ga gowlende a-bowte. al so dos a goke,
Mani is the sorwfol song. it sigge upon mi bok;
I am holde so harde. un-nethes dar i loke,
Al the mirthe of this mold. for God i for-soke.
I gowle au mi grayel. and rore als a roke,
Litel wiste i ther-of. qwan i ther-to toke:
[-292-] Summe notes arn shorte. and somme a long noke,
Somme kroken a-weyward. als a fleshoke.
Qwan i kan mi lesson. mi meyster wil i gon,
That heres me mi rendre. he wenes i have wel don:
Qwat hast thu don, dawn Water. sin saterdai at non?
Thu holdest nowt a note. by God! in riht ton.
Wayme, leve Water. thu werkes al til shame,
Thu stomblest and stikes fast. as thu were lame;
Thu tones nowt the note. ilke be his name,
Thu bitist a-sonder bequarre. for bemol i the blame.
Wey the, leve Water. thu werkes al to wondre,
Als an old cawdrun bigynnest to clondre,
Thu tuchest nowt the notes. thu bites hem on sonder:
Hold up for shame. thu letes hem al under.
Thanne is Water so wo. that wol ner wil he blede,
And wendis him til William. and bit him wel to spede.
'Got it wot!' seys William. 'ther-of hadd i nede:
Now wot i qwou judicare. was set in the crede.
Me is wo so is the be. that belles in the walmes;
I donke upon David. til me tonge talmes;
I ne rendrede nowt. sithen men beren palmes:
Is it also mikel sorwe. in song so is in salmes?
Ya, bi God! thu reddis. and so it is wel werre.
I solfe and singge after. and is me nevere the nerre;
I horle at the notes. and heve hem al of herre:
Alle that me heres. wenes that i erre;
Of bemol and of bequarre. of bothe i was wol bare.
Qwan i wente out of this word. and liste til mi lare,
Of effauz and elami. ne coud y nevere are;
I fayle faste in the fa. it files al my fare.
Zet ther ben other notes. sol and ut and la,
And that froward file. that men clepis fa;
Often he dos me liken ille. and werkes me ful wa,
Mizt i him nevere hitten. in ton for to ta.
Zet ther is a streiuant. witz to longe tailes,
Ther-fore has ure mayster. ofte horled mi kayles;
Ful litel thu kennes. qwat sorwe me ayles,
It is but childes game. that thu witz David dayles.
Qwan ilke note til other lepes. and makes hem a-sawt,
That we calles a moyson. in gesolrentz en hawt;
It hayl were thu boren. zif thu make defawt,
Thanne sais oure mayster. "que wos ren ne vawt.'"

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