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Sumer is icumen in
London, British Library, MS Harley 978, f. 11v

Middle English text (with Latin instructions for singing, in italics) | Latin text

Translation of Middle English text

Summer has arrived,
+ Sing loudly, cuckoo!
The seed is growing
And the meadow is blooming,
5 And the wood is coming into leaf now,
Sing, cuckoo!
The ewe is bleating after her lamb,
The cow is lowing after her calf;
The bullock is prancing,
10 The billy-goat farting,
Sing merrily, cuckoo!
Cuckoo, cuckoo,
You sing well, cuckoo,
Never stop now.
15 Pes: Sing, cuckoo, now; sing, cuckoo;
One person repeats this as often as necessary, making a rest at the end.
16 Sing, cuckoo; sing, cuckoo, now!
The other one sings this, making a rest in the middle and not at the end, but immediately repeating the beginning.

This round can be sung by four people together; however, it should not be sung by fewer than three, or at least two, not counting those who sing the 'pes'. And it is sung in this way: while the others remain silent, one person starts, together with those who are carrying the 'pes'; and when he comes to the first note after the cross, the next one begins, and so on with the others. And the individual singers should stop at the rests where they are written and not elsewhere, for the space of one long note.

Translation of Latin text

Look, O lover of Christ, what condescension! The heavenly husbandman, because of a fault in the vine, not sparing his son, exposed him to the ordeal of death; and he brings back the half-dead prisoners  from torment to life, and crowns them with himself on the throne of heaven.

Set up by Bella Millett, enm@soton.ac.uk. Last updated 29 May 2003 .