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: 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