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Lyr Add: The Hermit's Song

keberoxu 27 Dec 15 - 11:18 AM
keberoxu 27 Dec 15 - 11:41 AM
keberoxu 27 Dec 15 - 12:12 PM
keberoxu 27 Dec 15 - 04:16 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 27 Dec 15 - 06:11 PM
keberoxu 27 Dec 15 - 07:00 PM
keberoxu 30 Dec 15 - 12:31 PM
keberoxu 31 Dec 15 - 05:58 PM
keberoxu 01 Jan 16 - 04:03 PM
keberoxu 09 Jan 16 - 05:17 PM
keberoxu 26 Jul 16 - 06:19 PM
keberoxu 27 Jul 16 - 05:54 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: M'óenurán im aireclá
From: keberoxu
Date: 27 Dec 15 - 11:18 AM

M'óenurán im aireclá

M'óenurán im aireclán
cen duinén im gnáis:
robad inmuin ailethrán
ré n-dul i n-dáil m-báis.

Bothnat deirrit diamair
do dílgud cach cloín;
cubus díriuch diamain
dochum nime noíb.   

Nóebad cuirp co sobésaib:
saltrad ferda for,
súilib tláithib todéraib
do dílgud mo thol.

Tola fanna féodaidi,
freitch domnáin ché,
coicle bána béodaidi,
ba sí digde Dé.

Mo thúara, mo thuinide,
robad inmuin cacht;
ním-dingénad cuilide
mo longud, cen acht.   

Arán toimse tírmaide --   
maith don-airmen gnúis --   
uisce lerga lígmaise
ba sí deog no lúis.

Céim íar sétaib soscéla
salmchétal cach thráth,
crích fri rá, fri roscéla,
filliud glúine gnáth.

Críst mac Dé dom thaithigid,
mo Dúilem, mo Rí,
mo menma día aithigid
issind flaith i m-bí.

[Ba sí in chrích fom-themadar
eter lissu lann
locán álainn eladglan,
os mé m'óenur ann.]

M'óenurán im aireclán,
m'óenurán am-ne;
m'óenur do-llod forsin m-bith;
m'óenur rega de.

M'óenur ma do-rogbus ní
d'úabar betha cé,
cluinte mo núallán oc caí,
m'óenurán, a Dé.

First printed in 1905 by the School of Irish Learning, Dublin, in the school's journal Ériu, volume II, pp. 55 - 57. Captured from the Franciscan Library manuscript by academician Kuno Meyer (a member of the School). More explanation in future messages.

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Subject: Lyr: all alone in my little cell
From: keberoxu
Date: 27 Dec 15 - 11:41 AM

Kuno Meyer, in the same academic journal article, printed his very prosaic, not-for-singing English translation. Here it is, verses in the same order as the original Old Irish.

The author, by the way, is unknown.

All alone in my little cell,
without a single human being in my company:
beloved has been the pilgrimage
before going to the tryst with Death.

A hidden secluded little hut,
that my evil may be forgiven;
a straight unblemished conscience
towards holy Heaven.

Sanctifying the body by good habits:
trampling like a man upon it,
with eyes feeble and tearful
for the forgiveness of my passions.

Passions weak and withered,
renouncing this wretched world,
pure living thoughts,
as it were a prayer to God.

My food, [such as befits] my station,
beloved has been the bondage;
my dinner, doubtless,
would not make me bloody.

Dry bread weighed out --   
well we [give thanks, say grace by] lower[ing] the face --   
water of the many-coloured slope,
that is the beverage that I would drink.

Stepping along the paths of the Gospel,
psalm-singing at every Hour,
an end to talk, to long stories,
constant bending of knees.

Christ the son of God to visit me,
my Creator, my King,
my mind to go out to Him
in the everlasting Kingdom in which He is.

[This were the end to sins   
among the fortified houses of these lands
a delightful little spot full of tombs,
and I alone therein.]

All alone in my little cell,
all alone thus;
alone I came into the world;   
alone I shall go from it.

If, by myself, I have transgressed
from pride of this world,
hear me wail for it,
all alone, O God.

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Subject: RE: Lyr: Hymn to St Fin Barre
From: keberoxu
Date: 27 Dec 15 - 12:12 PM

There are two musical settings that I know of, both composed since 1900 and both copyrighted and owned by those who composed them.

A different English translation of this hymn, by Sean O'Faolain in his The Silver Branch, was selected by American composer Samuel Barber to conclude his cycle, Hermit Songs, opus 29. Not having seen O'Faolain's translation, I don't know how completely he translated each and every verse. Barber's song -- titled, presumably after O'Faolain's translation, "The Desire for Hermitage" -- uses at most five stanzas derived from the Gaelic original. One of those five verses I have surrounded with asterisks and brackets. O'Faolain, and after him Barber, include this stanza in their English-language version/setting.

There is a copyright on O'Faolain's translation, which I am acquainted with solely from Barber's music, as a former accompanist/pianist. From memory, I recall that singled-out stanza reading this way:

That will be an end to evil
when I am alone
in a lovely little corner among tombs
far from the houses of the great.       (The Desire for Hermitage)

For his Hymn to St Fin Barre, Irish composer David Bremner selected altogether nine verses from the Old Irish original. He omitted the above verse about choosing a hermitage in an isolated graveyard, and avoiding the occasion of sin by avoiding the great fortified dwelling-places in the land....and now that I look at my own homework, I see that another of the verses above was omitted as well, though it also echoes in "The Desire for Hermitage" by Samuel Barber. In fact, O'Faolain, exercising poetic license, has taken two Gaelic verses and conflated them into a single English verse. It goes:

(copyright again)
Singing the passing hours
to cloudy Heaven,
feeding upon dry bread
and water from the cold spring. (The Desire for Hermitage)

Bremner's Hymn to St Fin Barre does include the Gaelic verse about "dry bread weighed out...water...that is the beverage that I would drink." What Bremner chooses to omit is the Gaelic verse which follows: "...Gospel, psalm singing at every Hour,...constant bending of knees."

The preceding is confirmed, not from Bremner's music which I have not seen (I don't even know who the publisher is), but from a bulletin from the cathedral for whose choir Bremner composed the piece; the bulletin can be found at the cathedral's website.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Hermit's Song
From: keberoxu
Date: 27 Dec 15 - 04:16 PM

David Bremner's note in the cathedral bulletin suggests that this text dates from the 8th or 9th century.

There are more verses actually. They just have not been set to music that I know of. In the interest of complete disclosure, I will offer the Gaelic, along with Kuno Meyer's translation. This is a good place to add, that along with the article from the journal, Ériu, from a hundred years ago, which printed the manuscript capture, I resorted to the online redaction at the Corpus of Electronic Texts, CELT for short, a website and project of University College Cork. Their version of this and all the Old Irish lyrics in their database has been redacted. I see that some individual words are completely different. Many more are the same words, with altered spelling. No, I do not have Gaelic, either old, middle, or modern, so I cannot comment with the slightest authority -- for me this is all about data entry.   

I think the four verses which complete this lyric, are hardcore asceticism/austerities/penance relations. Forewarned is forearmed.

This pair of stanzas comes after
"Passions....renouncing this wretched world"
and before
"My food, [] my station; my dinner, doubtless, will not make me bloody"

Donála co n-dílectai
dochum nime nél,
coibsin fíala fíretlai,
frossa díana dér.

--Wailings with eagerness
towards cloudy Heaven,
sincere truly devout confessions,
swift showers of tears.

Dérgud adúar áigthide
amal tálgud troch,
cotlud gairit gáibthide
díucra meinic moch.

--A sleeping couch [deliberately] cold and fearful,
as if a doomed man lying down [and waiting for doom],
cutting my sleep short as if in danger,
frequent early outcries.   

The final pair of verses do not come at the end; they occur between these two verses:

"Dry bread weighed out"
"Stepping along the paths of the Gospel"

Longud serbda séimide,
menma i l-lebor léir,   
lám fri cath, fri céilide,
cubus roithen réid.

--A bitter meager dinner,
diligently feeding the sick,
keeping off strife and visits as well,
a radiant smooth conscience.

Robad inmuin (araidi)
ainim nechta nóeb,
leicne tírmai tanaidi   
tonn chrocnaide chóel.

--'Twas a beloved token,
pure blemishes of saints,
cheeks withered and thin,
a shrivelled emaciated skin.   

As before, the English translation is by Kuno Meyer.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Hermit's Song
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 27 Dec 15 - 06:11 PM

Thank You !...

This is a grand addition...and obviously a "labor of love."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Hermit's Song
From: keberoxu
Date: 27 Dec 15 - 07:00 PM're welcome, oh notorious Mudcatter guest.

Have you seen my thread on Vasija de Barro? If you love Ecuador, that thread might interest you (song lyric). (When I no longer flunk blue clicky school, I will make a proper link.)

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Hermit's Song
From: keberoxu
Date: 30 Dec 15 - 12:31 PM

My perusal of the components of Samuel Barber's song -- my first exposure to this Old Irish hymn -- continues. Not easy to locate The Silver Branch by Sean O'Faolain. I see quotations from it in other places. I begin to have my suspicions regarding Barber, alas. I now see that O'Faolain translated stanzas which Barber disregarded, omitted completely. What really throws me is that Barber uses one verse which I cannot find in O'Faolain at all! well, not in the quotations of O'Faolain. It is that very quatrain which I quoted, about cloudy Heaven and the daily food of the hermit, which appears to be a conflation of two separate quatrains in the Old Irish original. I see that before I am satisfied, I must get a copy of The Silver Branch in my hands, to see exactly what was printed by O'Faolain under copyright. But this will be of interest to few other people, no doubt.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Hermit's Song
From: keberoxu
Date: 31 Dec 15 - 05:58 PM

In my ignorance of Irish saints, and in light of the title chosen by composer David Bremner for his choral setting of the Old Irish, I must ask:

What can anybody tell me about St. Fin Barre / Finbarr? More to the point, why would a composer choose his name to adorn a poem about asceticism, penance, and life as a hermit?

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Hermit's Song
From: keberoxu
Date: 01 Jan 16 - 04:03 PM

My quick-and-dirty scan of what is known about St Finbarr, connects him firmly to the founding of Cork. His itinerary reminds me ever so slightly of St Bruno who was of very different origins. Bruno left the Benedictines, and the Cistercian founders such as St Bernard, to be alone. A whole colony of people followed Bruno to his solitude, and thus it was with Finbar. Historical records long after Finbar's day speak of St Finbar's Cave and St Finbar's Hermitage; and he not only founded the city of Cork but, if I read right, was the bishop of its first cathedral. Bruno died in solitude (read: surrounded by devotees who braved the wilderness with him), in a country not his own; those who came after him and adhered to his way of life, laid the foundations for the Ordo Cartusiensis, the Carthusian Order (In Great Silence), which, though sparse, refuses to completely die out, nine hundred years later.

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Subject: The Silver Branch
From: keberoxu
Date: 09 Jan 16 - 05:17 PM

At last, a copy of Sean O'Faolain's The Silver Branch.

My suspicions were correct.

"Singing the passing Hours
to cloudy Heaven,
feeding upon dry bread
and water from the cold spring."

-- is NOT by Sean O'Faolain and does not appear in The Silver Branch. Barber's other verses for "The Desire for Hermitage" do come from O'Faolain.

0'Faolain's The Silver Branch translation, of this Gaelic text, for the record, include six of the fifteen verses. Which ones, have to save for a later post.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Clocan binn
From: keberoxu
Date: 26 Jul 16 - 06:19 PM

manuscript capture:

Clocán bind

benar i n-oidchi gáithe

ba ferr lim dola ina dáil

indár i n-dáil mná báithe

That is how Dr. Kuno Meyer submitted the above quatrain to the Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge / the Gaelic Journal,
which printed it on page 193 of old-issue-no. 45, in Volume IV, dated May 1893, in Dublin.

Kuno Meyer's prose translation appeared with several variations, as this became an often-quoted poem. The following is what Meyer submitted to the preceding issue of the Gaelic Journal, May 1893.

Sweet little bell

that is rung in the night of wind

Dearer to me going to meet it

than to meet a silly woman

The preceding is one of Dr. Meyer's numerous "Anecdota from Irish MSS.", which appeared in several issues of the above Journal, with different manuscript-captures every time.
It was first quoted by Ernst Windisch.

The manuscript source is given as the Leabhar na hUidre, with folio abbreviated notation " 119 a 120."
The quatrain is understood to be a bit of monastic marginalia, rather than part of an actual bigger body of work; something that was entered on the manuscript by the scribe of the scribe's own volition. No author identity has been put forth that I know of.

North American composer Samuel Barber set to music the Sean Ó Faolain translation into English, "The Church Bell at Night," as part of his ten-song cycle of "Hermit Songs".....oops, I'm not certain the translator is O´ Faolain actually, as there are credit is given to Ernst Windisch or to Kuno Meyer, who worked with the original Middle Irish and the manuscripts. Barber's setting is under copyright.

If I recall correctly the Barber (and O'Faolain?) lyric from memory:

"Sweet little bell
Struck on a windy night
I had liefer keep tryst with thee
Than be with a light and foolish woman"

© G. Schirmer publishers/ the late composer's estate, probably

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Subject: Lyr Add: The Praises of God
From: keberoxu
Date: 27 Jul 16 - 05:54 PM

manuscript capture:

Bóeth da cad duine ar doman

Anad ic a admolad

Ocus nach anand int én

'S can anam and ach aer

Modern-day redaction helps to make sense of this Middle Irish quatrain.
From the early 1900's:

Baoth do gach duine ar domhan

Anadh agá ádmoladh

Agus nach anann an t'éan

'S gan anam ann ach aér

This was printed as yet another of the "Anecdota from Irish MSS." from professor Kuno Meyer, in this case Anecdota series V.
p. 115 of the Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge / The Gaelic Journal,
old issue no. 40, volume IV;
Dublin: Gaelic Union, February 1892.

The manuscript source is the Leabhar Breac, and again, no identified author.
Dublin's Royal Irish Academy has this source in its archives, listed as manuscript 23P16, on the margin of page 227.

Kuno Meyer struggled with the translation:

What fools are the men on this earth
To cease from [expressing] His praises
When the bird does not cease,
And it without soul except for air

Samuel Barber happened upon an English translation, and thought the lyric had promise for one of his Hermit Songs; but he also thought it needed a more elegant translation. To this end, he commissioned one of his contemporaries to freshly interpret the content of the quatrain.

Here is the result, by W. H. Auden.


How foolish the man
Who does not raise
His voice and praise
With joyful words
As he alone can,
Heaven's High King
To Whom the light birds
With no soul but air,
All day, everywhere
Laudation sing.

1953 © The Estate of W. H. Auden

set to music as one of Samuel Barber's "Hermit Songs"

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