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Folklore: White Pater Noster

Paul Burke 19 Jul 09 - 06:25 PM
GUEST,BHG 05 Aug 09 - 02:30 PM
meself 05 Aug 09 - 02:40 PM
Steve Gardham 05 Aug 09 - 04:09 PM
Snuffy 05 Aug 09 - 04:09 PM
Joe Offer 05 Aug 09 - 07:58 PM
GUEST,Bob 02 Jan 13 - 03:58 AM
Jim Dixon 02 Jan 13 - 10:12 AM
Jim Dixon 02 Jan 13 - 10:53 AM
Jim Dixon 02 Jan 13 - 11:09 AM
Jim Dixon 02 Jan 13 - 12:11 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 02 Jan 13 - 12:35 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 02 Jan 13 - 12:45 PM
Jim Dixon 02 Jan 13 - 12:46 PM
Phil Edwards 02 Jan 13 - 01:00 PM
Phil Edwards 02 Jan 13 - 01:10 PM
Phil Edwards 02 Jan 13 - 01:20 PM
GUEST,Margo Maclellan 13 Aug 13 - 04:26 AM
GUEST,eldergirl 13 Aug 13 - 09:02 PM
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Subject: Folklore: White Pater Noster
From: Paul Burke
Date: 19 Jul 09 - 06:25 PM

Jonathan Lumby's interesting book, The Lancashire Witch Craze, includes a chapter on the White Paternoster- which the author claims is a remnant of Catholic culture in early Protestant England.

    White Pater noster, St Peter's brother,
    What hast i' th' t'one hand? White booke leaves.
    What hast i' th' t'other hand? Heaven yate keys.
    Open heaven Yates, and steike shut hells Yates:
    And let every chrysom child creepe to its owne mother.
    White Pater noster, Amen.

I'd like to know if there are other versions extant of this- particularly from America- I think healers and spellmakers were a feature of Appalachian society.

Some relate it to the well- known "Matthew Mark Luke and John, Bless the bed that I lie on".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White Pater Noster
From: GUEST,BHG
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 02:30 PM

Pater noster is Latin for the Our Father Matt 7:9-13. Note the following verses: For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly father also will forgive you...
St. Peter was given the keys to the Kingdom - note the keys on the Papal flag and the authority to name men to the priesthood with the power, through the Holy Spirit, power to forgive sins. Ditto for other sacraments.
White probably means with, pronounced wit or long-voweled dialect. Every Christian child is brother to Christ and the Virgin Mary's child.
Early Protestant would be 1533 in England. Rev. Lumby is correct, it's a Catholic song, and not a "remnant" of Catholic Church at all. There are tons of references in folk songs and stories that are obviously Catholic but whose origin are obscure because of misspellings and ignorance. Catholic recucancy was a major irritant in Lancashire. Puritan recucancy didn't become an issue until 1559ish and certainly not in Lancashire.
Richard Wilson has written an interestin book about Shakespeare's recusancy. He's got a few things wrong - origin or the confessional box, for example. If ysomeone ripped something out of a church 400+ years ago you cannot complain they were never there or arose historically elsewhere.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White Pater Noster
From: meself
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 02:40 PM

I always heard the well-known, etc., as:

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
Went to bed with their trousers on.

Don't know where exactly I heard it, though.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White Pater Noster
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 04:09 PM

meself,
Looks like a cross with 'Diddle diddle dumpling, my son John, went to bed with his trousers on etc...

me old mate John Gall's mam used to recite
'Matthew, Mark, Luke and john,
Ho'd the cuddy while I jump on.' (donkey)

It occurs in its proper form in several collections. Chambers popular Rhymes of Scotland has
'Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
Bless the bed that I lie on,
Four corners to my bed,
Four angels at my head,
One to watch, and one to pray,
And two to bear my soul away.'


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White Pater Noster
From: Snuffy
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 04:09 PM

Perhaps you were thinking of this?

Diddle diddle dumpling. my son John,
Went to bed with his trousers on
One shoe off and the other shoe on
Diddle diddle dumpling. my son John,


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White Pater Noster
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 07:58 PM

Looks like there might be a lot to explore here. "White Paternoster" is mentioned in Chaucer, and it also has a Wikipedia article and a Roud Number.

Here's the entry in the Traditional Ballad Index:

    Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (I)

    DESCRIPTION: A child's prayer, asking the apostles for a blessing: "Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John / Bless the bed that I lie on / Four bright angels at my bed / Two at the bottom and two at the head / Two to hear me as I pray / And two to bear my soul away"
    AUTHOR: unknown
    EARLIEST DATE: 1891 (Baring-Gould); original probably from 1656 (Ady, according to Opie-Oxford2)
    KEYWORDS: nonballad religious
    FOUND IN: US(Ap,NE)
    REFERENCES (5 citations):
    Flanders/Olney, p. 33, "White Paternoster (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) (1 short text)
    Chase, p. 209, "The Bedtime Prayer" (1 text)
    Opie-Oxford2 346, "Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John" (4 texts)
    Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #548, p. 221, "(Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)"
    ADDITIONAL: Walter de la Mare, _Come Hither_, revised edition, 1928; #457, "Before Sleeping" (1 composite text, of a number of children's prayers; it may have inspired some later uses of the text.)

    ST FO033 (Full)
    CROSS-REFERENCES:
    cf. "Go And Dig My Grave" (lyrics)
    cf. "The Little Beggar Boy" (floating verses)
    Notes: The first two lines of this piece can be dated to Thomas Ady in 1656 -- but could easily have been used in another context. Similar pieces are common (e.g. Montgomerie-ScottishNR 95 runs "Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Hold the horse till I leap on; Hold it succar, hold it sure, Till I win o'er the misty moor").
    I'm not really convinced, e.g., the Chase and Flanders/Olney texts are the same -- but how do you separate two pieces with the same words and no tune? - RBW
    File: FO033

    Go to the Ballad Search form
    Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
    Go to the Bibiography
    Go to the Discography

    The Ballad Index Copyright 2007 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Matthew Mark Luke John
From: GUEST,Bob
Date: 02 Jan 13 - 03:58 AM

Matthew Mark Luke John
Haud the cuddy till I get on
Haud it steady
Haud it still
Till I get by the stoorie mill

This was from my Mother who came from Brechin

Does any one know any further verses?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White Pater Noster
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 02 Jan 13 - 10:12 AM

From Typographical Antiquities: An Historical Account of Printing in England, Scotland and Ireland … from 1471 to 1600 ... by Joseph Ames (London : Miller, 1810), page 109:

'The popish white pater noster, which I had from my learned frende and antiquarie Mr. John Scott, 1624. This was called The spell of Edmonds Bury.

'Peters Brother where lyest all night?
There as Chryst y yod.
What hast in thy honde? heauen keyes.
What hast in thy tother?
Broade booke leaues.
Open heauen gates,
Shutt hell yeates.
Euerie childe creepe christ ouer
White Benedictus be in this howse
Euerye night.
Within & without. This howse rounde about
St. Peter att the one doore
St. Paule att the other
St. Michael in the middle
Fyer in the flatt
Chancell-op shatt
Euerie naugers bore
An Angell before.

White pater noster. Amen.'

By this (says Herbert) is seen the darkness that the vulgar lived in.

'White pater noster.

'The lord is our Foster
Our ladye is our mother
And St. Peter is myne neame
Followe Followe that well streame
What hast thou in thy right hand
The sonne & the moone.
What holst thou in thy leaft hande?
Gilboone—Gilboone.
What holdest thou vnder thy belte?
Heauen keyes, heauen keyes.
Ope, ope heauen yates,
Steike steike hell yates
God and St. Beni knyght
Keepe me this night
From all ill wight
Ether within or without
Or seauen score miles round about.'

'This last white pater noster I hadd from my learned & most pleasant good frend Mr. John Wrenham, neare to Brandon Ferrey in Norfolke: he told me that he stole it truly from a great papist in those partes, 1637.

'To morrowe is good fryday
Weele fast whyle we may
Till we heare the knell
Of oure lords bell
Our lorde stands att his masse
With his : 12 : Apostles
Fayer lady whats yonder bright?
Fayer lady whatts yonder bright?
Yonders myne owne deare sonne
Nayled to the holy roode tree
Through hande through foote
Through holy harte roote
Through the harde brayne panne
Well them that thii frydayes peale can
Say it in the morne
Seauen times forborne,
Say it at noone
Seauen times fore doome,
Say it in the euen
Seauen times forgiuen
All the day of our doome than
Wells they this Frydayes peale can.'

Sequunt' orōnes sēte Birgitte: dicte xv. o. MS. in the margin.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White Pater Noster
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 02 Jan 13 - 10:53 AM

From Demonologia; or, Natural Knowledge Revealed by J S. Forsyth (London: John Bumpus, 1827), page 269-270:

Agnes Simpson was remarkable for her skill in diseases, and frequently, it is said, took the pains and sickness of the afflicted upon herself to relieve them, and afterwards translated them to a third person: she made use of long Scriptural rhymes and prayers, containing the principal points of Christianity, so that she seemed not so much a white witch as a holy woman. She also used nonsensical rhymes in the instruction of ignorant people, and taught them to say the white and black Pater-noster in metre, in set forms, to be used morning and evening; and at other times, as occasion might require.


The White Pater-noster runs thus:—

God was my foster,
He fostered me
Under the book of Palm tree.
St. Michael was my dame,
He was born at Bethlehem.
He was made of flesh and blood,
God send me my right food;
My right food, and dyne too,
That I may too yon kirk go,
To read upon yon sweet book,
Which the mighty God of heaven shook.
Open, open, heaven's yaits,
Steik, steik, hell's yaits,
All saints be the better,
That hear the white prayer, Pater-noster.


The Black Pater-noster.

Four neuks in this house for holy angels,
A post in the midst, that Christ Jesus,
Lucas, Marcus, Mathew, Joannes,
God be unto this house, and all that belong us.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White Pater Noster
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 02 Jan 13 - 11:09 AM

From The Miller's Tale by Chaucer, line 3480ff:

Ther-with the nyghtspel seyde he anonrightes,
On foure halves of the hous aboute,
And on the thresshfold of the dore with-oute:
"Jhesu Crist and Seint Benedight,
Blesse this hous from every wikked wight
For nyghtes verye—the white Pater noster.
Where wentestow, Seint Petres soster?"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White Pater Noster
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 02 Jan 13 - 12:11 PM

From Les Misérables by Victor Hugo [translated by Lascelles Wraxall] (London: Hurst and Blackett, 1862), Vol. 2 Page 13:

CHAPTER IV.

AMUSEMENTS.

Above the refectory door was painted in large black letters the following prayer, which was called the "White Paternoster," and which had the virtue of leading persons straight to Paradise.

"Little white Paternoster, which God made, which God said, which God placed in Paradise. At night, when I went to bed, I found three angels at my bed,—one at the foot, two at the head, and the good Virgin Mary in the middle,—who told me to go to bed and fear nothing. The Lord God is my father, the good Virgin is my mother, the three apostles are my brothers, the three virgins are my sisters. My body is wrapped up in the shirt in which God was born: the cross of St Marguerite is written on my chest. Madame the Virgin weeping for the Lord went into the fields and met there M. St John. 'Monsieur St John, where do you come from?' 'I have come from the Ave Salus.' 'You have not seen the Lord, have you?' 'He is on the tree of the cross with hanging feet, nailed-up hands, and a little hat of white-thorn on his head.' Whosoever repeats this, thrice at night and thrice in the morning, will gain Paradise in the end." *

In 1827, this characteristic orison had disappeared beneath a triple coat of whitewash, and at the present day it is almost effaced from the memory of those who were young girls then, and old women now.

* This Paternoster is so curious that I have thought it better to quote the original.—L. W.

"Petite Paternotre blanche, que Dieu dit, que Dieu fit, que Dieu mit en Paradis. Au soir, m'allant coucher, je trouvis (sic) trois anges à mon lit coucher, un aux pieds, deux au chevet, la bonne Vierge Marie au milieu qui me dit que je m'y couchis, qui rien ne doutis. Le bon Dieu est mon père, la bonne Vierge est ma mère, les trois apôtres sont mes frères, les trois vierges sont mes sœurs. La chemise où Dieu fut né, mon corps en est enveloppé; la Croix Sainte Marguerite à ma poitrine est écrite. Madame la Vierge s'en va sur les champs. Dieu pleurant, recontrit M. St Jean. Monsieur St Jean, d'où venez-vous? Je viens d'Ave Salus. Vous n'avez vu le bon Dieu, si est? Il est dans l'arbre de la Croix, les pieds pendans, les mains clouans, un petit chapeau d'épine blanche sur la tête. Qui la dira trois fois au soir, trois fois au matin, gagnera le Paradis à la fin."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White Pater Noster
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Jan 13 - 12:35 PM

Hansel and Gretel, Englebert Humperdinck:
(English trans.)

Evening Prayer

When at night I go to sleep
Fourteen angels watch do keep:
Two to guard at my head,
Two to guide at my feet,
Two on my right hand,
Two on my left hand,
Two who warmly cover,
Two who o'er me hover,
Two to whom is given
To guide my steps to heaven.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White Pater Noster
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Jan 13 - 12:45 PM

Haven't found any particularly American versions.

Legend has it that John Adams said it every day.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White Pater Noster
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 02 Jan 13 - 12:46 PM

The Folk-lore Record, Volume 2 (London: The Folklore Society, 1879), page 127ff – contains an 8-page article called "A Note on the 'White Paternoster.' " by Evelyn Carrington, which gives analogues in several European languages, but I didn't see an American version there.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White Pater Noster
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 02 Jan 13 - 01:00 PM

The Les Mis link is fascinating - it's hard to see how "Petite Paternotre blanche" could be a mishearing of "with pater noster" or "witches' Paternoster"!

Here's a footnote from William A. Wheeler (ed.) (1878), _Mother Goose's melodies; or, songs for the nursery_.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. A charm formerly much used by children instead of a prayer. There are many variations of it. See for a number of such, taken down from the lips of children in the dioceses of Worcester and Salisbury, a "Report on the state of parochial education in the Diocese of Worcester," by the Rev. E. Field, printed as an appendix to the National Society's report for 1841. Ady, in his "Candle in the Dark," London, 1656, p. 58, gives the first two lines as having been used in the time of Queen Mary.

The origin of the lines is perhaps to be found in the "Enchiridion Leonis Papae," first published at Rome in 1532, and early translated into French. This work consists of a collection of prayers, for the most part burlesqued or disfigured and adopted as charms to avert
or heal diseases. One of them, entitled "Paternotre blanche, pour aller infailliblement en paradis," contains this sentence: "Au soir m'allant coucher, je trouvis trois Anges a mon lit couche's, un aux pieds, deux au chevet, la bonne Vierge Marie au milieu," etc.


So there you go - it all comes from the 16th-century Handbook of the Lion of the Pope. Perfectly straightforward.

Or is it? Did the Enchiridion Leonis Papae even exist? Here (again courtesy of Google) is a footnote from an edition of the Canterbury Tales:

Carrington (1879) cites several contemporaneous versions of the Petite Paternotre Blanche in French and Provencal. One of the latter (p. 129) has a conclusion in which the Blessed Virgin "tells whosoever recites it, to have no fear of the dog or wolf, or wandering storm, or running water, or shining fire, or any evil folk." There are other versions in German, Italian, and Spanish. All are variants of the "Now I lay me down to sleep" theme.

Skeat ( 1894:5.106) cites an example from the "(apocryphal) Enchiridion Leonis Papae (Romae, MDCLX): Petite Patenotre Blanche, que Dieu fit, que Dieu dit, que Dieu mit en Paradis. Au soir m allant coucher, je trouvis trois anges a mon lit, couches, un aux pieds, deux au chevet, etc." ("Little White Pater Noster, what God does, what God says, what God sends to Paradise. At night, going to bed, I found three angels by my bed, lying down, one at my feet, two at my head, etc.") Skeat then quotes this example, which illustrates that English versions are often nonsensical: "White Paternoster, Saint Peter's brother,/ What hast thou i' th' t'other hand.^ Heven-Yate Keyes. / Open Heaven-Yates, and steike [shut] Hell- Yates. / And let every crysome-child [Christian child] creepe to its owne mother. / White Paternoster! Amen."
...
Donaldson (1958, following Skeat and Robinson) has the most concise explanation ". . . the White Lord's prayer: this personification was considered a powerful beneficent spirit." We can conclude that Chaucer has John allude to a half-superstitious, childish prayer.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White Pater Noster
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 02 Jan 13 - 01:10 PM

Ah, wait a minute - the Enchiridion Leonis Papae means "Handbook of Pope Leo", not "...of the lion of the Pope". Or, if you prefer, "Grimoire of Pope Leo". It's a real book of spells; the apocryphal part is that it appears to have surfaced in 1740, and whether it genuinely did go back to the sixteenth century is doubtful. In any case, it can't reasonably be where Chaucer got the idea from.

I think it was just folk religion, of the kind that's likely to flourish when the official religion uses a language most people don't understand.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White Pater Noster
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 02 Jan 13 - 01:20 PM

Another update: the Enchiridion was supposedly presented by Pope Leo to the Emperor Charlemagne. The only Pope Leo who fits is Leo III, who met Charlemagne in 799 and again in 800.

Whereafter it was handed down in secrecy from generation to generation for over 900 years, before being printed in 1740. Right.

I think it's a total red herring.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White Pater Noster
From: GUEST,Margo Maclellan
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 04:26 AM

A version from Aberdeenshire:

Matthew Mark Luke and John
Haud the horse or I win on
Haud her siccar, haud her sair
Haud her by the auld grey hair.


('Or' is used in the sense of 'until').


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White Pater Noster
From: GUEST,eldergirl
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 09:02 PM

Learnt this at school in a slightly twee choral arrangement:
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
Bless the bed that I lie on
Four corners to my bed
Five angels there lie spread
Two at my head, two at my feet
One at my heart, my soul to keep.


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