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