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.

http://www.mbouchard.com/misc/Maiden-in-the-Moor-Lay.anon14thC.mp3

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.

Robin-m’aime.AdamDeHalle.c1250.mp3

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.

Murie-it-is.anon13thC.mp3

 

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

Three Blind Mice – then and now

We’re all pretty familiar with Three Blind Mice, or at least we think we are. We sing this little ditty in elementary school and it’s largely a play song for children.

Three blind mice.
Three blind mice.
See how they run.
See how they run.
They all ran after the farmer’s wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a sight in your life,
As three blind mice?

But the original version is far stranger…

Three Blinde Mice,
Three Blinde Mice,
Dame Iulian,
Dame Iulian,
the Miller and his merry olde Wife,
she scrapte her tripe licke thou the knife.

Believed to have been written (not merely collected) by Thomas Ravenscroft, it was published in his 1609 Deuteromelia or The Seconde part of Musicks melodie.

TRIPE SCRAPING! KNIFE LICKING! This stuff is MADNESS!

From http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/ravenscroft/modern/


I’ve done quick recordings to illustrate the sound difference. First, here is the modern one:

Three Blind Mice – Modern Version

And here is the Ravenscroft version (which I’ve come to like better! It must be the tripe scraping. Must be.)

Three Blind Mice – 1609 Ravenscroft Version

 

A work in progress….

Forswear thy pledge, myn weneth
nat everich oon yeven thilke
I but mine thoughts unbinden
ant thou understandan mak.

Neuer ic the ne yeve away
Neuer ic the nolde na doun
Neuer ic sette forth and thee forsake
Neuer ic yelde wepen mak
Neuer ic farewell spake
Neuer ic thee disceyve and peyne

We ken our leman mony a day
achen thou hart, thou fain would ne hit spake
we ken wot is now befalle
we wyste the sport and we wolde it play
Ant shoud thou ask mine heart,
are thee ne blind to ken?

Neuer ic the ne yeve away
Neuer ic the nolde na doun
Neuer ic sette forth and thee forsake
Neuer ic yelde wepen mak
Neuer ic farewell spake
Neuer ic thee disceyve and peyne

Neuer ic the ne yeve thou
Neuer yeve thou

 

 First Draft

Forswear thy pledge, myn weneth
nat everich oon yeven thilke
I but mine thoughts unbinden
ant thou understandan mak.

Neuer ne thou yeveth forth
Neuer thou nolde na doun drede
Neuer ne sette forth awa y thou forsake
Neuer ne thou yeven soregh mak
Neuer ne spake adeiu
Neuer ne thou disceyve y pyne thee

We ken our leman mony a day
achen thou hart, thou fain would ne hit spake
we ken wot is now befalle
we wyste the sport and we wolde it play
Ant shoud thou ask mine heart,
are thee ne blind to ken?

Neuer ne thou yeveth forth
Neuer thou nolde na doun drede
Neuer ne sette forth awa y thou forsake
Neuer ne thou yeven soregh mak
Neuer ne spake adeiu
Neuer ne thou disceyve y pyne thee

Neuer ne yeveth forth
Ne yeveth forth.

Extra bonus points from Aneleda if you can figure out the inspiration for this piece. 😉

The Book of Jibril

Fragments from The Book of Jabril

1-In the early days, Viscount Sir Edward took into his household Earl Sir Horic, who took unto his house Sir Steffan vin Dresden, who took into his keeping he who would become the Prophet and baron, Jibril al Dakhil. 2-Now at the time it was not known that he would enter into the circle of darkness, and become revered for his wisdom and prophecy. 3-In the view of the people he was but a man, though many would live to see him become a warrior and a Prophet, about whom tales would be told into the twilight of time.

* * *

1-The Prophet had, for a time, left the fields of battle in order that he should meditate upon his place in the world. 2-When he had returned to the war-fields he did take unto them like a storm atop a mountain, like a dervish in the marketplace. 3-When the night star rose, the Prophet spoke, saying, “I am hurt in places where mine own hands cannot reach, and am so sore my own bones do ache and wail, and I am filled with love.”

* * *

From the Vinland Gospels

17-During the season when the leaves had grown, in Vinland, there was a time wherein fierce men would descend from the hills to raid the settled people. 18-The ruffians would come with bow in hand to poach the land and the raiders would frighten and subdue the people with spears and great noise. 19-It so happened that when the appointed time came, the Prophet walked among these people and gave them courage. Where women struggled to upraise their dwellings, Jibril and his companions would lend them aid, and he became well-loved among the people for his generosity and strength. 20-Many times, and in many places did the Prophet do these deeds, and not that only, but more still. 21-When his work was done, the Prophet would lie upon his back upon the ground, where with much groaning and agony he would suffer for the people, taking into his own body all the ills of the land. 22-And the crowd were all amazed, and wondered among themselves: Who is this man who bears great pains for us, without grimace upon his dark and handsome visage, even as he lay upon the earth?

* * *

From the Vinland Gospels

1-The same day, the Prophet did walk among the throng and watched their ways. 2-And when the night had fallen, he sat beside the well and again watched the people long into the darkness. 3-Meanwhile, his followers were gathered about the fire and wondered at his station. 4-After a time, Jibril did at last approach the fire, and he gathered close to him all those whom he held dear, saying, “I shall give you words of wisdom.” And his acolytes did await his words as the plowed earth awaits the grain: What wisdom do you bring to us, o Prophet? they asked. 5-He blessed them by saying, “Hear my words and hearken unto them.  Though the very night hath fallen and darkness has set its feet unto the ground, thou maist not go unto the streets if thou art uncomely and monstrous. Thou must be seemly, or thou shall not be called mine own.” 6-And his followers did then smooth their hair together, as without thought, and considered well his wisdom.

* * *

A fragment from the Pembridge Gospel
The Book of Jibril, Chapter 6 verses 12 through 16

12-And in those days tales arose of a great beast upon the land, a beast so terrible that it would inflict madness on those it battled, twist their minds, and contort their bodies before consuming their souls.  And the Prophet heard this and told his companions “I shall do battle with this beast, so that others may be spared its torments, verily I shall consume it whole”. 13- And so Jibril went out into the land to find the beast, days and weeks he searched, until at last in a small pine forest near the ocean, he came upon villagers who said the beast was near. The Prophet asked “Where is its lair?” The villagers were mute with fear, but a herald went forth into the forest and returned with a small bottle.  The Prophet asked “What is this?” To which the Herald did reply “This my lord is the vessel in which liveth the beast, not unlike the demons of the sand, the djinn” 14-The Prophet took the vessel, and uncorked it saying the words “I will not see thee hurt yet another, I demand you come forth, verily release the Kracken!”  15-And the Beast did come forth, and the Prophet did battle it. And in a mighty flash, the prophet did open his mouth wide and devoured the Kracken whole, and his companions and the villagers were sore afraid.  And the battle inside the Prophet was waged late into the night, his mouth was filled with strange utterances, and his body would shake and tremble, as if he were not completely in control of it.  Towards dawn the Prophet did win the battle and opening his mouth wide again, did return the body of the beast to the Earth.  16-In the morning the Prophet was overtired from his battle, but was of sound mind and whole body, and his companions and the villagers were amazed at it all.

* * *
From the Vinland Gospels

1-One evening the Prophet reclined before the fire with his companions, weary from a long day of work and battle. “What is a man if he cannot rest?” asked Jibril, once the evening meal had been eaten. And the company celebrated their rest with a two-handled cup passed from one to the other. 2-Now among the gathered people was a man who was also a warrior, and who had battled with the Prophet during the day. This man kept his hair long, tied back with a thong, and he wore upon his cheeks great growths of hair in the custom of a foreign people of ancient times. During the night, this man was joking and caught the eye of the Prophet, upon whose bare head the moon itself shone.

3-After some time, the Prophet addressed the man, and gestured to the chair in which the main reclined. “You have but to hold onto that chair in which you now recline,” he spoke, “and I shall hold fast to the very hair upon your head, and truly, should this come to pass, for one fortnight you shall not bare the gaze of your own reflection, even if it be obscured by the sun.” 4-The foreigner considered the words of the Prophet, and asked him if by completing this act, it would atone for the ancient crimes of his people.

* * *
From the Vinland Gospels

16-When the sun had long set, and the work of the day had been completed, Jibril was sitting before the fire with his brethren when the King of the land came and sat among them. 17-All these were persevering with one mind in conversation with the King, when the Prophet noticed that missing among them was a woman, the Queen of the land, whom he had sworn to protect. 18-Rising up in the midst of them, the Prophet addressed the King by his formal title, asking, “Where, o dukii, is the veiled Lady of your house, the Queen? The people are sorely saddened by her absence.” The King responded, “She is reclined in a well-appointed tent nearby, where she lay deep within a dream-like stupor. She has been thus for much time.”  19-The multitude was filled with sadness to hear that the Queen was thusly arranged and became silent. 20-“I shall go up unto the Queen,” spoke the Prophet, “and shall lay my cloak and hands upon her, and in doing so, shall wake her from her stupor.” 21- And they were all astonished, and wondered, saying one to another: What meaneth this?

22- The Prophet began to chant unto himself a tuneless prayer and left the fire alone to travel up the mountain to the tent of the Queen. The gathered multitude looked toward the King, who spoke to them saying, “I do not fear for my Queen, for I have seen it with my eyes: she hath wrestled horses to the earth.” 23- And the people did not fear for her any longer, though they listened carefully for the sounds of the Prophet from the mountain.

* * *
From the Vinland Gospels

20-At the time, there was in the land a tribal poetess who had come at the behest of the King, whose subject she was. She was seated by the fire with the King’s company, and also in the company of the Prophet. 21-At the behest of the King or his companions she would sing in rhyme, or speak as a foreigner, which incited laughter among them. 22-The King had asked the woman to retell a tale he heard earlier at the fire, a tale about a beast of the field, but said this time with the husky voice of a wanton, though sadly this did not improve the tale in the eyes of the King.

23-At this, the Prophet, who had been deep in his meditation, staring at the reflection of the moon in his cup, took note of the woman as she sat near the flames, mesmerized by her voice. The Prophet then knelt in the sand before the fire as all became silent, and began to speak with guttural sounds as one possessed by demons. 24-The woman had ceased her singing, and Jibril did approach her on his hands and knees, as the beast of burden in the tale, and lay his head upon her lap. 25-The singer then made to comfort the Prophet who reclaimed his senses and, walking upright as a man once more, returned to his chair. 25-When the morning came, the King and his company remembered the happening, but the Prophet himself had no recollection of it, so deep in his meditation had be been.

* * *

14-Another day, the Prophet went out of the house, and on a journey with the Queen of his land, a woman of much strength and beauty, whom he had pledged to serve. 15-While they traveled he remained alert to all things which might come to pass, and after a time, began to tell parables about the dangers which travelers could face. 16-The Queen became sore with fear, and she did shudder and quake. But Jibril did say unto her that she should have no fear, and spoke to her these words, “I shall impale myself on any trouble that does come our way, and I shall do so even twice.” 17-And the Queen felt blessed and comforted by his presence.

* * *

1-And upon the land came a great wash of heat, such that no man or woman could find comfort. The multitudes did beg: Why hath the Lord done thus to this land? what meaneth this exceeding great heat? 2-The Prophet too was burning, driven by the beams of the sun and sore wounded by the heat thereof. 3-As all around waited in agony for the falling of evening, Jibril did prophesy unto the host, saying to comfort them, “This day I have placed at my side a small basket of well-thatched rushes, into which I shall catch mine own blackness as it melts from me, and when the evening star hath risen, I shall again pour it upon me.” 4-It was in this way that the Prophet did melt himself for the salvation of the people.

* * *
An apocryphal story of the Prophet Jibril

The prophet was a superior man, one of great strength and holiness. He was also one who had a spirit of generosity which had no equal. He looked down unto the peoples surrounding the stalls of the market, and food stands,  and said unto himself, “it is a shame, for truth, that all are not so endowed as I am with bodily perfection.” and “I must find a way to give to the people that which I have achieved.”

And thus did he vow to go unto the barber and the apothecary to have his body cut with a knife, that a serum could be made to allow all men to achieve his perfection. With great caution and courage did the holy one have removed from himself a piece of his very gut.

The barber had placed the blessed part into a golden bowl while he sewed the Prophet with silver threads, when in came the men from the temple, who had been loitering by the food stands in the marketplace as the holy one passed by them. They wanted this magic serum! They wished to be anointed that they too could achieve the perfection of the Prophet Jibril!

Thus, while the Prophet lay sleeping deeply, was there a great fight arising with the men of medicine and hair cutting and the rabble from the street. When the scuffle was done the rabble had absconded with the muscle from the chest of holy Jibril. The Prophet woke to the men of science lamenting greatly that his part had been stolen and defiled but Jibril told them to wait, for he knew that his will would be done in some way.

The rabble took the muscle into the temple and gave it to the priests. They then brought gold and precious jewels to make a case for it. Soon it was placed into an armored chest sculpted to perfection to resemble the torso of the holy Jibril himself, shining with gold. Twin ruby cabochons glittered upon the hammered pectorals, and his navel was an onyx from the ring of the most beautiful temple virgin.

The chest, so none would steal it, was made very heavy, such that it took a man his whole body to embrace the torso and lift it. The priests who moved the heavy chest each day soon began to notice that the prophets blessings were upon them! Lo! As they did lift their long garments, it could be seen that their own chests began to resemble that of the Perfect One himself.

It was said that if the chest of the prophet was lifted by any man every day for 100 days, he could attain the perfection as well.

And so it seemed to be true.

Every day men would line up at the temple and each would put his arms around the great golden chest which contained the relic of Jibril. And after 100 days of this ritual the men who attended the temple daily did notice that their own chests did resemble the chest of the Prophet!

Blessings be upon them! And thus it was that the next miracle of the holy Jibril did come to pass.

_________________________________________________

The Book of Jibril was written as a gift to honor Baron Jibril al-Dakhil for his devotion and humor during the first reign of Queen Kiena with her King Gregor. She hand wrote in calligraphy all of the text, save that which is listed as apocryphal. It was written by myself with additions by Baron Angus Pembridge (noted in the Pembridge Gospels). It is a living document in that new stories will surely be added.

The Tale of Adolphus the Devourer

The victorious Adolphus the Devourer was captured in this strikingly realistic portrait by Ben Fugler.

Once upon a time, in the spring of the year as the mud thaw ground gave way to greening, a kingdom was beset with a plague that distended bellies and left all affected exhausted, longing but to lay down for many hours at a spell.

The bearers of this affliction were a nation of hardy, olive-skinned ones, who came in great numbers from their homeland, a place of fire and boiling waters. They came and set upon small clutches of people who seemed unable to bear resistance of them, and the people were unable to fight off this new scourge upon the land, amid the burning pyres around which listless people had gathered.

Among them was a man named Adolphus, now known as The Devourer. He was a man who truly represented the heart of chivalry that night, wresting over the burning pyres that green-skinned legion, oily and filled with things grown in the earth – fungal things, dark, heavy-scented, and the color of ichor.

Their shining plate was blinding in the flickering flame, all who looked upon them groaned as people whose bellies had seen more than enough carnage that eve alone. When I, humble witness to this deed, rode forth to this ground of my neighbors, they had done what they could against the numerous adversaries. My own nearby village had fought nobly against them, barely surviving, every man, woman, and child having struck again and again at their ranks until at last they were no more.

Illumed by fire it was clear that they were too much for the meager crowd assembled, and though they were well-armed with blades and spiked sticks with two to four tynes, they were forced to cower before these invaders, and it appeared that their place may have been forever given over to these sticky things.

But Adolphus – brave, brave Adolphus – he did stand and with noble bearing and a chest most extended with posture – how could we be but inspired by such a man? One who, selfless, looked upon the wreaked tableau and the foe arrayed in clusters surrounding the pile of sacrifices made to their savage, orange, earthy gods and held no fear and did not cower.

Nay, he set upon them armed but with a single fork.

Never have I seen such slaughter, and I have seen the brutality of wars for ten whole years hence.

Each olive-skinned, puffed-up, white-war-painted member of that oppugnant clan was brutally pierced and then, in a manner which would give nightmares to all who born of those boiling waters – they were forced into his mighty maw, that he may make of them an example to their kin. For he saw that this rabble distressed the people and vowed that he would avenge them, leaving not a single survivor as he looked upon them in haughty pride.

When it was seen that only a few pockets of resistance remained, did Adolphus let them lay there as dead, only to have them be rescued by their servants and returned to the fiery hall of their birth?

No! He marched forth with long strides and stood, looking down upon the vanquished, made of them an example to all of the Clan Ra’Violi of the Tort’linni born of the murky pastes of Semolina, and their many kinfolk. Again, it was not sufficient to rend them with his spikes, but he did eat whole each and every enemy in a brutal display, which is why he is known as The Devourer.

And when he was done, nothing was upon that battle field but empty plate which lay unmoving even with the peoples’ wind-like sighs of relief.

Then swooped down the Prince of the realm, who had been fighting his own battle against these small but mighty foe. And he did say unto Adolphus that he had seen from afar his victorious prancing and had heard the cries of joy from his people, so hearty that he had been inspired to travel from his own war-ground to investigate. And he did celebrate with the people, and Adolphus was begged by them to sit again at his place that he may be venerated with tale and song.

All who cross forks with Adolphus ought quake with fear and flee.

For he did save many of us that day and the flames once thought to be mesmerizing pyres did become bonfires of celebration most joyful as we raised a toast to Adolphus, protectorate of the people.

Know ye all that this is true. For it was witnessed by many, including this most honest bard, and also the herald vox regis, who has, herself, given this tale the seal of truth.

All honor to Adolphus the Devourer!

May his fork be ever sharp

___________________________________

This tale was extemporaneously performed at Mudthaw during feast, primarily for the table next to my own, for Adolphus had asked if I would please come sing for them. Once done, he decided to take care of the remaining homemade ravioli from the table. I decided to make it a more dramatic endevour. As he acted I described and as I described, he acted. It was quite a piece of cooperative improv, to the delight of his table. When we were all toasting and laughing, Prince Gregor came down and startled the lot of us, noting that he’d been forced to check on us after seeing Adolphus’ dramatic prancing and hearing the noise. We were then taken to task for appearing to have more fun than the royal table. (Which was likely a level critique. It was a lot of fun.) And so was born the tale of Adolphus the Devourer.