Thursday, April 30, 2009

More medieval music: Carmina Burana

With which we can spend a happy evening filled with wine and song.

[Music for songs 201 and 202 from the Carmina Burana, Bibliotheca Augustana.]


If ye have not already heard of the Carmina Burana, ye may find it a pleasing discovery.

It is a manuscript written around 1230 A.D. and discovered in 1803 in the Bavarian monastery of Benediktbeuern in the Bavarian Alps near Munich. It contains the largest preserved collection of medieval Latin song lyrics, with 228 works.

The authors are uncertain, but the content is delightful. It contains religious songs (this part has been lost), moral and satirical songs, love songs, drinking and gambling songs, and religious plays.

Its texts and musical notations have inspired many musicians, most notably Carl Orff, who set 24 of the poems to modern music in a choral and orchestral work called Carmina Burana.

More information about the manuscript is available in an article from Athena Review, Vol. 4, No. 2.

Here are the words and a translation to song 202. Translation by Helen Waddell, Mediaeval Latin Lyrics (London: Constable, [1929] 1943)

O potatores exquisiti,
licet sitis sine siti,
et bibatis expediti
et scyphorum inobliti,
scyphi crebro repetiti
non donniant,
et sermones inauditi
Qui potare non potestis,
ite procul ab his festis,
non est locus hie modes tis.
Inter letos mos agrestis
modes tie,
et est sue certus testis
Si quis latitat hie forte,
qui non curat vinum forte,
ostendantur illi porte,
exeat ab hac cohorte:
plus est nobis gravis morte,
si maneat,
si recedat a consorte,
tune pereat.

To you, consummate drinkers,
Though little be your drought,
Good speed be to your tankards,
And send the wine about.
Let not the full decanter
Sleep on its round,
And may unheard of banter
In wit abound.
If any cannot carry
His liquor as he should,
Let him no longer tarry,
No place here for the prude.
No room among the happy
For modesty.
A fashion only fit for clowns,
If such by chance are lurking
Let them be shown the door;
He who good wine is shirking,
Is one of us no more.
A death's head is his face to us,
If he abide.
Who cannot keep the pace with us,
As well he died.

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