Tag Archives: sumer is icumen in

celebrating summer–medieval-style

Ah summer, the season when the meadow blooms and the stag farts! Here are some sprightly words celebrating the season we’ve just begun. They’re the lyrics to a bouncy little ditty circa the year 1260 that most students going through music history courses will have have run across. If your Middle English is about as bad as mine, I’ve provided a translation.

Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweþ sed and bloweþ med
And springþ þe wde nu,
Sing cuccu!
Awe bleteþ after lomb,
Lhouþ after calue cu.
Bulluc sterteþ, bucke uerteþ,
Murie sing cuccu!
Cuccu, cuccu, wel singes þu cuccu;
Ne swik þu nauer nu.

Sing cuccu nu. Sing cuccu.
Sing cuccu. Sing cuccu nu!

Summer has come in,
Loudly sing, Cuckoo!
The seed grows and the meadow blooms
And the wood springs anew,
Sing, Cuckoo!
The ewe bleats after the lamb
The cow lows after the calf.
The bullock stirs, the stag farts,
Merrily sing, Cuckoo!
Cuckoo, cuckoo, well you sing, cuckoo;
Don’t you ever stop now,
Sing cuckoo now. Sing, Cuckoo.
Sing Cuckoo. Sing cuckoo now!

You can sing it all by yourself, but it’s designed to be four-part round that you sing over a two-part ground. If you’re tired of “Row, row, row your boat” as the only round to sing at summer camp this might be just the ticket. Below is the music (click it to enlarge). And if you want to sing along, click here for an mp3 file [ source ].

notation to sumer is icumen in

Sumer is icumen in, transcribed from the ca. 1260 manuscript by Blahedo, used under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.5 license [ source ].

Warning: Once you listen to it a few times–and maybe even sing along–it gets to be one of those “It’s a Small World” earworm tunes that you’ll have a hard time getting rid of.

Find out more.
And if anyone’s reading this in the Southern hemisphere, here’s Ezra Pound’s winter parody. (I guess he wasn’t particularly fond of winter.)