A Salve for the Midrealm

Salve Draconis, based on the Gregorian Salve Regina, for the Midrealm coronation 2015.
Salve Draconis, based on the Gregorian Salve Regina, for the Midrealm coronation 2015.

My friend, the Honorable Lord Andrew Blackwood, was about to complete his term as the Royal Bard of the Midrealm. He had a plan for music for the coronation, a processional for his Regents. He’d asked me if I could help get the music for a particular Gregorian chant, the very traditional Salve Regina.

I sent him some sheet music and didn’t think about it much. This is what the piece is like:

However, soon enough it was deeply fall and the event was coming. Andrew was about to work on the piece, when he experienced a death in his family and had to travel for several days. Hearing his desperation, I offered to take a stab at adapting the piece.

The Salve Regina has been chanted daily by the Cistercians since 1218 – it’s a very old piece of music. It’s a hymn to Mary, and it’s very….Marian. Exceptionally holy. And therefore, and interesting challenge to secularize.

Salve, Regina, mater misericordiae:
(Hail, Queen, mother merciful:)
Vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
(Life, sweetness, and hope of ours, hail.)
Ad te clamamus,
(To thee we cry)
exsules, filii Hevae.
(Exiles, children of Eve.)
Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
(To thee we sigh, morning and weeping)
in hac lacrimarum valle.
(in this tearful valley.)
Eia ergo, Advocata nostra,
(Quick then, Advocate of ours,)
illos tuos misericordes oculos
(those thy merciful eyes)
ad nos converte.
(to us turn.)
Et Iesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
(And Jesus, blessed fruit of womb thine,)
nobis, post hoc exsilium ostende.
(unto us, after this exile show)
O clemens: O pia: O dulcis
(O clement: O loving: O sweet)
Virgo Maria.
(Virgin Mary.)

Adapting the piece would be a challenge – it had to

  • be about the Midrealm
  • be appropriate to our SCA experiences
  • keep the same feeling as the original (and respect)
  • have appropriate scansion and end vowels whenever possible
  • make some kind of sense to someone who isn’t me

I took to the text of the piece carefully. I’m not a Latin scholar. This was very outside my comfort zone and it had a pretty quick turnaround time – just a few days before it had to go to the people who would create an arrangement of it and learn it for the Midrealm Coronation.

The Process

I took the piece and looked for a concept to adapt. Fortunately, some of the Peerage oaths of the Midrealm are traditional and have supplied translations.

Hic fidelitatem et ministerium promitto / I here swear fealty and service
Coronae Mediterranae / To the Crown of the Middle Kingdom.
Semper Coronam ditare / To ever enrich the Crown.
Talento et ingenio meo / With my talents and abilities.
Artibus diversis favere / To promote the diverse arts,
Institutionem discipulorum meorum continuare / To continue the instruction of my dependents,
Gloriam Mediterranae augere / To increase the glory of the Middle Kingdom,
Et digna serto quod gero esse / And to be worthy of the Wreath I wear…
Sic promitto, <<Name>>. / thus swear I, <<Name>>.

Hic fianciam juro et humagium ago / I here swear fealty and do homage
Coronae Regni Medii / To the Crown of the Middle Kingdom
Coronae servire in omnibus rebus / To serve the Crown in all things
Meminisse comitatis et benignitatis / To remember courtesy and kindness
Aestimare justiciam ante lucrum privatum / To prize justice above personal gain
Laborare in bonum commune / To labor for the common good
Locupletare Regnum et Societatem / To enrich the Kingdom and the Society
Ut floreant et crescant / So they may flourish and grow
Et dignus esse titulo Pelicani / And to be worthy of the title of Pelican.
Hic per honorem et manum / Here by my honor, my hand
Et cor meum juro ego, <<Name>>. /  and my heart swear I, <<Name>>.

I used this for inspiration.

I also looked through a lot of common Latin phrases, mottoes, and other chant texts. I used a Latin verb list as well, to try to have some hope to get the right tense and use. I knew I wanted to use the Midrealm motto (of sorts) of “Draco Invictus” in the piece because of its strong connections to the people. I also wanted to be sure this was a balance between Regent and People (I am Eastern after all!) but to have it come from the voice of both. I did not name specific regents in order to make it useful on the longer term.

The Result

What I wound up with was this: Here is the sheet music to Salve Draconis.

Salve Draconis, Coronae Mediterranae
Hail Dragon, Crown of the Middle Kingdom
Vita, dulcedo, honoro—- Salve!
[Hail] our life, our sweetness and our honor!
Ad te clamamus,
the thee we cry
Coronam qui meruit feres
Let he who won the crown bear it
Ad te suspiramus, labore et honore
to thee do we send up, our labor and honor
in hac pia publicae
in the dutiful desires of the republic
Eja ergo, justitia nostra,
quick then Our justice
Illos tuos aeternam oculos
those eternal eyes
ad nos converte.
(to us turn.)
in fidem, benedictum, vox populi tuis
in faith, blessed voice of your populace
nobis, post hoc exsilium ostende.
unto us after this honor show
O justice: O pia: O Medii
O justice: O loving: O Midrealm
Draco Invictus.

The piece was performed as the reigning King and Queen, Ragnvalder Jonsson and Arabella Silvermane, processed into the hall toward the thrones. You can see the final format here, with transcription and arrangement by Cailin mac Aindréis and Siri Toivosdotter: Salve Draconis – New Words Only

Hweat! Celowyn

And in Anglo Saxon, because…

Hweat! Celowyn

(Hweat Hweat Hweat)

naéfre ic máran geseah 

þæt gód lenge swá  gód

( swá  gód, swá  gód, swá  gód)

secge ic þé to sóðe

þæs wéndon aér 

þæt híe naéfre wolde.


This is how it translates / retranslates.

Sweet Caroline

(buh buh buh)

Good times never seemed so good

I’ve been inclined

To believe they never would

But now I…

Hweat! Celowyn

(Hweat Hweat Hweat)

naéfre ic máran geseah

þæt gód lenge swá  gód

( swá  gód, swá  gód, swá  gód)

secge ic þé to sóðe

þæs wéndon aér

þæt híe naéfre wolde

Hey Celowyn

(hey hey hey)

Never have I seen

that good time

so good

I say to you in truth

it was thought before

that they never would


Below are the notes of a crazy person trying to put “Sweet Caroline” into Anglo Saxon. Because this is what passes for documentation at 2am. 

naéfre ic máran geseah eorla ofer eorþa never have I seen greater noble on earth  
aénig heora þóht  none of them thought   

ofgyfan wolde  ( should be willing to give up)

þæs ne wéndon aér    it was not thought before

þæt naéfre Grendel swá fela   gryra gefremede
that Grendel would have never so many   atrocities committed,

þæt híe healfre geweald  /  that they would half of it control

secge ic þé to sóðe,   sunu Ecgláfes, I say to you in truth,   son of Edgelaf,


Dammit, now I’ve had to puzzle it out…

Hweat! Celowyn (Hweat Hweat Hweat)

þæt gód lenge  (that  good time)

ne wæs þæt gód síð (was not so got

naéfre gít æt lenge (never yet at time?)

naéfre wolde

swá gód lengen aéfre wolde ( it seemed never would?)

ne wæs þæt forma síð /  it was not the first time


Fyrst forð gewát· time passed by

góde gode

gódum  good things

gódne good one

 þaér se góda sæ _____ there sat the good  _____

grundwong þone    ofgyfan wolde· this earth    should be willing to give up;
sceolde willan    wíc eardian he was obliged to be about to    inhabit a dwelling
elles hwergen·    swá sceal aéghwylc mon elsewhere,    as must every man
álaétan laéndagas.    Næs ðá long tó ðon abandon loaned-days.    It was not long to when
þæt ðá áglaécean hý eft gemétton: that the fierce enemies  

Sweeting Carolyne

Because when you hear that your king was singing the original from the back of a truck after fighting the Pennsic woods battle, you just have to answer that call in period.


When icumen in,

I cannot starte to ken

But then I ken strong it groweth

Merie the spring,

after springe cometh sumer

who wolde ken thou shoulde come to me?

Hand toucheth hand

reacheth out,

toucheth I, toucheth thou

Sweeting Carolyne (fa la la!)

Gode times neuer seem’d so gode. (so gode, so gode, so gode!)

I hath been inclined (fa la la!)

to believe they neuer wolde

Look, there is the night.

It seemeth not so lonely,

With twa we fill

we hath filled it with but two.

And when I hurte,

Hurt runneth from mine shoulder,

whilst I hold my lemman, I am not sore

Warmth, toucheth warmth,

reacheth out,

toucheth I, toucheth thou

Sweeting Carolyne (fa la la!)

Gode times neuer seem’d so gode. (so gode, so gode, so gode!)

I hath been inclined (fa la la!)

to believe they neuer wolde

Sweeting Carolyne (fa la la!)

Gode times neuer seem’d so gode. (so gode, so gode, so gode!)

I hath been inclined (fa la la!)

to believe they neuer wolde

& etc….

(And the original) 
Where it began,
I can’t begin to knowin’
But then I know it’s growing strong
Was in the spring
And spring became the summer
Who’d have believed you’d come along.
Hands, touchin’ hands
Reachin’ out, touchin’ me, touchin’ you
Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I’ve been inclined
To believe they never would
But now I…
…look at the night
And it don’t seem so lonely
We fill it up with only two.
And when I hurt,
Hurtin’ runs off my shoulders
How can I hurt when holding you?
Warm, touchin’ warm
Reachin’ out, touchin’ me, touchin’ you
Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I’ve been inclined,
To believe they never would
Oh, no, no
Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
Sweet Caroline,
I believe they never could
Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
Sweet Caroline…

Now Springes the Spray – a Kilf Challenge

So Andrew Blackwood, a friend and bard in the Midrealm, issued a challenge for the recent Midrealm Bardic Madness event based on an idea brought up on the drive back from Known World Cooks and Bards in Northshield last September.

It was to create a contra-contrafact in which one uses period lyrics and sets them to music, rather than the regular contrafact in which one writes new lyrics and sets them to an existing period (or not) song. Since that’s also called “filk”, Andrew called this challenge “off a kilf”, as it’s the opposite of the contrafact. Here is the challenge write-up: http://apapermuse.wordpress.com/off-a-klif-bardic-madness-south-2014/ where you can also hear the other artists’ version of this song.

The lyric chosen was a song called “Now Springtes the Spray” written by an anonymous poet in the 1300’s. The words were posted in both the period English and in modern English. The entrants each went to Andrew and performed away from the other entrants; he recorded the pieces. This was so people would not be influenced by the other performers. The result is pretty amazing – diverse and cool!

I’d planned to write my own version, record it, and send it out to him before Bardic Madness but it just didn’t happen. However, I decided to create one today and so this morning, after a study of the text and some thinking, I wrote a piece for voice and harp. Medieval music loved the fifth and so this is set very simply using only, really, four notes. I used the older words but didn’t hold to the earlier pronunciation.

Now Springes the Spray –  Anon. c.1300

Als I me rode this endre day
O’ my pleyinge
Seih I whar a litel may
Began to singe
“The clot him clinge!
Way as him I’ love-longinge
Shall libben ay!”

Now springes the spray
All for love I am so seek
That slepen I ne may

Son I herde that mirye note
Thider I drogh I fonde hire
In an herber swot
Under a bogh
With joye enough
Son I asked, “Thou mirue may
Why singes tou ay?”

Now springes the spray
All for love I am so seek
That slepen I ne may

Than answerde that maiden swote
Midde wordes fewe
“My lemman me haves bihot
Of love trewe
He changes anewe
Yiif I may, it shall him rewe
By this day!”

Now springes the spray
All for love I am so seek
That slepen I ne may

Three Early Songs for the Fort Knox Demo

Our Barony has a demo annually at a gorgeous civil war era fort in Maine on the Penobscot River. There’s always a music portion on the schedule. I missed the morning portion but these are the pieces I did in the afternoon portion of the event.

Here are two of them, warts and all, live recorded from my anachronistic cell phone from within my basket.

Maiden in the Moor Lay is a 14th century English piece written by the ever-popular Anon.


Robin m’aime, written by Adam de Halle somewhere in the mid 1250s, was the third I performed. I read the text in English before singing it in (I am sure woeful) early French. I adore this song.


Murie it is is a 13th century English piece, also by Anon. I recorded this one in another part of the fort because there was a lot of noise on the original and I had a rather rambling harp thing I decided was ok for a one-shot but I didn’t particularly want immortalized. I also decided to play with this a little vocally with embellishments and such and liked how it went. I have wanted to learn this piece for a long time but I finally properly learned it at Known World Cooks and Bards when I took a wonderful class on early accompaniment styles.



I feel that the simplicity and elegance of these pieces can be appreciated by modern audiences and I try to perform them in a way that keeps them accessible, but still simple. I’ve grown to really love them and am glad I can do each on relatively short notice.

– a