My friend Ro Honig von Somervelt was going to become a member of the Order of the Laurel at an event in the winter, and I was invited to arrange music for her procession by her Laurel, Mistress Carolyne laPointe.
She has two apprentice-siblings who are both excellent singers and musicians, and we had also a wonderful friend who would act as herald, so it made the creation of something quite special possible.
Because Honig’s persona is German, I searched through the words of many Minnesingers (and the little music I found to go with their words) but found nothing suitable for our procession. I knew that we would have Alexandre St. Pierre play his drum, I would play my harp, and Camille des Jardins would sing. Jean du Montagne would be our herald.
Ultimately I realized that I would have to create something. I found words by the Minnesinger Ulrich von Winterstetten* (who wrote in the 1200s) which read, “Aller sorgen fri uf gruenem zwi ir mout was guot, ze sange snel.” (Free from all sorrow on the green branch its spirit was good, bold in song.)
I altered the text to honor the Laurel, making it “Aller sorgen fri uf lorebeerbaum ir mout was guot, ze sange snel.” (Free from all sorrow on the laurel tree its spirit was good, bold in song.)
I then looked up each word in a translation site which had the phonetics of the words so I got the timing right in reading them and I spoke them in rhythm for a bit. (I’ve come to quite love the word “lorebeerbaum” after that!)
I then made a small tune – it had to be, for Honig, in a cheery tone and I wanted to keep with the medieval custom of playing fifths. So the tune went as follows:
The method we had was to have Jean, the herald, begin the procession by speaking the words in German and then in English, then we sang the song (just one line) with the harp and drum playing. The drum played only in the choruses but the harp continued.
Jean then announced** “Now into this room comes Ro Honig Von Sommervelt member of the Order of the Maunche.” Then singing then, “Now into this room comes Honig Von Sommervelt, recipient of the Golden Lyre.” Then we sang then, “Now comes into this room Ro Honig Von Sommervelt, chatelaine of the Province of Malagentia.” And we sang, then “Now into this room comes Ro Honig Von Sommervelt, descendant of the proprietress of the Tyger and Bucket, the Best Tavern in the Known World.” And then I stopped playing the harp fifths and we sang the piece in a three-part round until all the procession had filtered into the area around the Royal dais.
And then all the important things happened, and we were happy to have done it and relieved it was finished, our fine friend was a Peer and all was well.
*As she is Ro Honig von Sommervelt, and he was von Winterstetten, I kind of also liked that odd symmetry.
**I may have these out of order; and also my memory of the words is close but not exact, as Jean had created the lauds.