Corvus Corax, a German band, specialising in interpretations of medieval music that borrow elements from both heavy metal and opera, have recorded a number of songs from the Carmina Burana , a collection preserved in a 13th century manuscript discovered at the monastery of Benedicktbeurn in Bavaria. The songs are mostly in Latin, with a few in a southern German dialect, and were probably originally composed in the 12th and 13th centuries. Most of the original text of the Latin poems is available in the on-line Bibliotheca Augustana, and text and translation of a smaller selection on the Teach Yourself Latin site. A preview of Patrick Walsh's Love Lyrics from the Carmina Burana, which includes texts, translations and detailed notes, is provided on Google Books. In the Latin texts given on this page, the original, ancient Roman spelling `ae' in words like saepe has been restored to assist in recognition by students of the classical language. Medieval documents generally change the spelling to `e', reflecting the medieval pronunciation. The ancient pronunciation was the same as that of the diphthong in English `die'.
Mundus est in varium saepe variatus The world has often been altered in various ways Et a status ordine sui degradatus: and degraded from the order of its [proper] status Ordo mundi penitus est inordinatus, the order of the world has been deeply disordered Mundus nomine tenus stat, sed est prostratus. the word supposedly stands, but is [actually] prostrate
Sperabamus quod adhuc quisquam remaneret,We were hoping that someone would still remain Mundum qui praecipitem dando sustineret,who could support a collapsing world by giving, Pleno cornu copiae munera praeberet,provide gifts from a full horn of plenty, Nomen largiae, sed et rem, quod plus est, haberet.be called generous but, what is more, really be so
Mundus ergo labitur, nullus hunc sustentat;The world, therefore, is falling, no one holds it up Currit, cadit, corruit, quis eum retentat?It runs away, falls, collapses, who is preserving it? Largitatis semitas nemo iam frequentat Nobody now follows the paths of generosity Actus largi strenuos nemo representatOr performs the energetic acts of a generous person
Haec dum nudo nudam se propter hoc iniungit,Thus, while this one lies naked with her naked partner, Manu, lingua, labiis palpat, lingit, ungit; Touches, licks, smears with hand, tongue and lips At Venus medullitus scalpit, prurit, pungit! Still desire scrapes, itches and vexes them inwardly
In huius mundi patria regnat idolatria;In thefatherland of this world idolatry reigns Ubique sunt venalia dona spiritalia. Everywhere spiritual gifts are for sale Custodes sunt raptores atque lupi pastores,The guards are robbers and the shepherds are wolves Principes et reges subverterunt leges.Princes and kings undermine the laws Hac incerta domo insanit omnis homo.With this uncertain home every man goes crazy Sed ista cum vento transibunt in momento.But in a moment these things will pass away with the wind
O varium fortunae lubricumO the slippery inconstancy of Fortune, Dans dubium tribunal iudicum,A court giving a dubious verdict, Non modicum paras huic praemium,You prepare a great reward for the one Quem colere tua vult gratia.Your favour wishes to foster. Et petere rotae sublimia,[You allow him] to aim for the top of the wheel Dans dubia tamen, praepostereYet giving dubiously, preposterously De stercore pauperem erigens,Raising a poor man from the gutter, De rhetore consulem eligens.Selecting an orator to become a ruler Aedificat Fortuna diruit;Fortune builds and tears down Nunc abdicat quos prius coluitNow it abandons those it previously fostered
"Ave, formosissima, gemma pretiosa!" `Hail, most beautiful, precious gem!'
Dulcissima The sweetest one
Vidi florem floridum, vidi florum florem, I have seen a flower in flower, the flower of flowers
Vidi rosam Madii cunctis pulchriorem,I have seen the flower of May more beautiful than the rest Vidi stellam splendidam, cunctis clariorem,I have seen a splendid star, clearer than the rest Per quam ego degeram lapsus in amorem.Through whom I had lived as one fallen in love
Quid plus? Collo virginis brachia iactaviWhat more [need I say] I threw may arms roundthe maid's neck Mille dedi basia, mille reportavi, Gave a thousand kisses, received a thousand Atque saepe saepius dicens affirmavi:And time and again I spoke and declared "Certe, certe istud est id, quo anhelavi!" `Certainly, certainly this is what I sighed for!'
A full concert, `Cantus Buranus', is available on DVD and currently (August 2016) also on Youtube:
Other interpretations of the Carmina
By far the best-known setting of songs from the collection is Carl Orff's version for choir and orchestra, while probably the most convincing attempt to recreate a medieval performance is that by Philip Pickett and the New London Consort on the L'Oiseau-Lyre label. The set is now difficult to find but individual tracks can be bought for download on Amazon and elsewhere. A version of the drinking song `Bacche, bene venies' (Welcome, God of Wine) in similar style to Pickett's is available on Youtube, with illustrations and Latin subtitles.
Bacche, bene venies (opening stanzas and refrain with literal translation; long vowels marked according to classical pronunciation)
Bacche, bene veniēs Bacchus, well you-will come grātus et optātus pleasing and wished-for per quem noster animus through whom our spirit fit laetificātus becomes made-joyful
Istud vīnum, bonum vīnum That wine, good wine vīnum generōsum wine in-generous-quantity reddit virum curiālem renders a-man noble probum, animōsum honest, spirited Iste cyphus concāvus That cup hollowed-out dē bonō merō profluus from goodness pure flowing sī quis bibit saepius if anyone drinks more-often Satur fit et ēbrius replete he-becomes and merry
There is also a rather different interpretation of the song from Ensemble Unicorn and Oni Wytars:
Another well-known song, `Tempus est iocundum' (The season is pleasant) is also on Youtube, with illustrations and Latin subtitles in the same style as the first of the two `Bacche,, bene venies' versions. Spanish and English translations are provided in one of the comments under the video (click on the arrows to the right of the first line).
The German band In Extremo specialise, like Corvus Corax, in combining medieval song with a modern musical interpretation. Here is their heavy metal version of `Hiemali tempore' (In wintertime). The spelling in the lyrics given below has been regularised on classical lines but those given in the video retain the medieval forms :
wintery in-time Dum prata marcent frigore
are-weak with-cold Et aquae congelescunt
and waters freeze Concurrunt in aestuario
rush-together in a-warm-room Qui regnant cum decio
with the-dice Et postquam convalescent
and after they-recover-strength Socius a socio friend by friend Ludus incitatur the-game is-encouraged Qui vestitus venerat nudus reparatur he-who clothed had-come naked ends-up Ei trepidant divitiae before-him
tremble riches (i.e. the rich tremble before the one) Cui paupertas semper servit libere
always gives-service freely (i.e. who has always been poor)
Salutemus socii lets-greet-each-other friends Nos qui sumus bibuli we who
are fond-of-drinking Tabernam sicco ore the-tavern dry
with-mouth Optemus alacriter let’s-choose enthusiastically Cyphi impleantur iugiter glasses
let-them-be-filled continuously Potemus solito more let’s drink usual in-way
Here is another song by the same group - `In taberna gloria!', on the joys of drinking in the pub. `Meum est propositum in taberna mori' is a quote from stanza 12 0f poem191 in the Carmina Burana, which was probably written in the 1160s by an author known as `the Archpoet'. An English version of the whole poem is available on the Poetry in Translation site and the same translation can be read in parallel with the Latin text on the CARMINA MEDIAEVALIA page in linguae.
IN TABERNA GLORIA
Magis quam ecclesiam
church Diligo tabernam
I-love tavern Loqui facit socios to-speak it-makes friends Optimum
Latin Meum est
propositum my is intention In taberna
mori In tavern to-die
Vinum sit appositum wine may-it-be placed opposite Sitientis
oris Thirsty mouth In taberna
gloria (x 4)
Vinum super omnia wine
above all-things Bonum diligamus good let-us-love Nam purgantur vitia for are washed-away faults Dum vinum
wine we-drink Cum nobis copia with us (there is) plenty Vinum dum
clamamus wine while we-shout-for Qui vivis
in gloria who live in glory Te Deum laudamus you God we-praise In taberna
gloria (x 4)
Another band using Latin for their lyrics is the German group `Lesiem'. A number of their songs have been uploaded to Youtube, but the Latin is not very grammatical and they appear really to be just playing with the words.
There is an excellent compilation of medieval music, including songs in Latin and several other languages, assembled by one of the staff of the webradio station of the Medieval Studies Department at the University of Central Europe and uploaded to YouTube: