oAdd MS 35313, f. 158v, from the British Library, c. 1500.

The Three Living and the Three Dead, or the Three Dead Kings, is a poem dating back to the 13th century. It, or imagery from it, is often used to open the Office of the Dead in books of hours. Perhaps because medieval skellimans are pretty cool.

You can read the poem in Middle English, with footnotes.

You listen to the poem (after a longish intro).

You can read the British Library’s blogpost on the poem and the imagery in manuscripts.

Happy Fall!

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Twa Corbies, recorded by Cannach

Twa Corbies (or Two Ravens) is a traditional Scottish/English folk song. It was first collected and published in 1611 by Thomas Ravenscroft (tell me that isn’t just fun, name-wise), in his collection Melismata. It is recorded as Child Ballad #26.

International Music Source Library Project’s Entry (includes PDF sheet music): [Link]

There is a “happier” version of the song, but I like the cynical one better.

Lyrics:

As I was walking a’ alane,
I heard twa corbies makin’ a mane.
The tane untae the tither did say,
Whaur sail we gang and dine the day, O.
Whaur sail we gang and dine the day?

It’s in ahint yon auld fail dyke
I wot there lies a new slain knight;
And naebody kens that he lies there
But his hawk and his hound, and his lady fair, O.
But his hawk and his hound, and his lady fair.

His hound is to the hunting gane
His hawk to fetch the wild-fowl hame,
His lady ta’en anither mate,
So we may mak’ our dinner swate, O.
So we may mak’ our dinner swate.

Ye’ll sit on his white hause-bane,
And I’ll pike oot his bonny blue e’en
Wi’ ae lock o’ his gowden hair
We’ll theek oor nest when it grows bare, O.

We’ll theek oor nest when it grows bare.
There’s mony a ane for him maks mane
But nane sail ken whaur he is gane
O’er his white banes when they are bare
The wind sail blaw for evermair, O.
The wind sail blaw for evermair.

Happy October!

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