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Dutch medieval folk songs

Songs from the middle ages with music and English translation


<<  Dutch children's songs
    (translated in English)
 




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Egidius, where have you gone to?
I'm longing for you, my companion.
You favoured death, and let me life.


        Egidius waer bestu bleven
        mi lanct na di gheselle mijn
        du coors die doot du liets mi tleven.


You were such good, fine company
it seems to me one day one has to die.


        Dat was gheselscap goet ende fijn
        het sceen teen moeste ghestorven sijn.


Now you are elevated into heaven
brighter than the sunshine
and all the joy is given to you.


        Nu bestu in den troon verheven
        claerre dan der zonnen scijn
        alle vruecht es di ghegheven.


Egidius, where have you gone to?
I'm longing for you, my companion.
You favoured death, and let me life.


        Egidius waer bestu bleven
        mi lanct na di gheselle mijn
        du coors die doot du liets mi tleven.


Now pray for me, I'll still have to suffer here
and feel the pain of the world.
Please save a place for me besides you.


        Nu bidt vor mi ic moet noch sneven
        ende in de weerelt liden pijn
        verware mijn stede di beneven.


I still have here a song to sing.
Nevertheless once everyone must die.


        Ic moet noch zinghen een liedekijn
        nochtan moet emmer ghestorven sijn.


Egidius, where have you gone to?
I'm longing for you, my companion.
You favoured death, and let me life.


        Egidius waer bestu bleven
        mi lanct na di gheselle mijn
        du coors die doot du liets mi tleven.


You were such good, fine company
it seems to me on day one has to die.


        Dat was gheselscap goet ende fijn
        het sceen teen moeste ghestorven sijn.


  Dutch medieval folk song.

Commentary: This song is an early example of a rondeau (with repetitions of a couplet through the song). The medieval codex contains musical notation: Gruuthuse codex f28r.

Content: This song is a lamentation. The songwriter mourns over the death of his friend Egidius. You are ascended to heaven and have been given all the bliss. Pray for me and keep a seat free for me next to you. I have to suffer in the world and yet sing a song. But once everyone must die.

Sources (Dutch Song Database):
•  Handschrift Gruuthuse (around 1400)
•  Pollmann en Tiggers, Nederlands volkslied (1977)

dutch flag the netherlands holland   Lyrics 'Egidius waer bestu bleven' on Dutch website: Nederlandse volksliedjes E.
 







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Lord Halewijn sang a little song
all who did hear this would stay with him
all who did hear this would stay with him.


        Heer Halewijn zong een liedekijn
        al die dat hoorde wou bi hem zijn
        al die dat hoorde wou bi hem zijn.


And the king's daughter heard of this
she was so fine and so beloved
she was so fine and so beloved.


        En dat vernam een koningskind
        die was zoo schoon en zoo bemind
        die was zoo schoon en zoo bemind.


Standing before her father, asked:
oh father, can I look for Halewijn
oh father, can I look for Halewijn?


        Zi ging voor haren vader staen:
        och vader, mag ik naer Halewijn gaen
        och vader, mag ik naar Halewijn gaen?


Oh no, my daughter, no, not you!
who go that way do not return
who go that way do not return.


        Och neen, gi dochter, neen gi niet!
        die derwaert gaen en keeren niet
        die derwaert gaen en keeren niet.


Standing before her mother, asked:
oh mother, can I look for Halewijn
oh mother, can I look for Halewijn?


        Zi ging voor hare moeder staen:
        och moeder, mag ik naer Halewijn gaen
        och moeder, mag ik naer Halewijn gaen?


Oh no, my daughter, no, not you!
who go that way do not return
who go that way do not return.


        Och neen, gi dochter, neen gi niet!
        die derwaert gaen en keeren niet
        die derwaert gaen en keeren niet.


Standing before her brother, asked:
oh brother, can I look for Halewijn
oh brother, can I look for Halewijn?


        Zi ging voor haren broeder staen:
        och broeder, mag ik naer Halewijn gaen
        och broeder, mag ik naer Halewijn gaen?


It's me the same where you will go
if you will keep your purity
and wear your crown with dignity.


        't Is mi aleens waer dat gi gaet,
        als gi uw eer maer wel bewaert
        en gi uw kroon naer rechten draagt.


So she went to her dressing room
and she put on her finest clothes
and she put on her finest clothes.


        Toen is zi op haer kamer gegaen
        en deed haer beste kleeren aen
        en deed haer beste kleeren aen.


What put she on her body?
a little shirt softer than silk
a little shirt softer than silk.


        Wat deed zi aen haren lijve?
        een hemdeken fijnder als zijde
        een hemdeken fijnder als zijde.


What put she on her red long skirt
on every stitch a golden knot
on every stitch a golden knot.


        Wat deed zi aen haren rooden rok?
        van steke tot steke een gouden knop
        van steke tot steke een gouden knop.


What put she on her tunic blouse
on every stitch a gleaming pearl
on every stitch a gleaming pearl.


        Wat deed zi aen haren keirle?
        van steke tot steke een peirle
        van steke tot steke een peirle.


What put she on her fair blond hair
a golden crown of heavy weight
a golden crown of heavy weight.


        Wat deed zi aen haer schoon blond hair?
        een kroone van goud en die woog zwaer
        een kroone van goud en die woog zwaer.


She went into her father's stable
and chose the best horse of them all
and chose the best horse of them all.


        Zi ging al in haers vaders stal
        en koos daer 't beste ros van al
        en koos daer 't beste ros van al.


She straddle-legged sat on the horse
and singing and tinkling she rode through the wood
and singing and tinkling she rode through the wood.


        Zi zette haer schrijlings op het ros
        al zingend en klingend reed zi door 't bosch
        al zingend en klingend reed zi door 't bosch.


Right in the middle of that wood
she came across lord Halewijn
she came across lord Halewijn.


        Als zi te midden 't bosch mogt zijn
        daer vond zi mijn heer Halewijn
        daer vond zi mijn heer Halewijn.


Greetings! he said and came to her
greetings fair maiden, with bright brown eyes
come sit with me, untie your hair.


        Gegroet! zei hi, en kwam tot haer
        gegroet, schoon maegd, bruin oogen klaer
        komt, zit hier neer, ombind uw haer.


The more of her hair she made loose
the more tears she did wipe away
the more tears she did wipe away.


        Zo menig haer dat zij ombond
        zo menig traantjen haar ontron
        zo menig traantjen haar ontron.


They rode their horses side by side
and on the road fell many words
and on the road fell many words.


        Zi reden met malkander voort
        en op den weg viel menig woort
        en op den weg viel menig woort.


Then they arrived at the gallows field
where many dead women did hang
where many dead women did hang.


        Zi kwamen bi een galgenveld
        daer aen hing menig vrouwenbeeld
        daer aen hing menig vrouwenbeeld.


At that time he said to the girl:
because you are so beautiful
you choose your death. Speak now at once.


        Alsdan heeft hi tot haer gezeid:
        mits gi de schoonste maget zijt
        zoo kiest uw dood! het is nog tijd.


Well, if I am allowed to choose
I choose the sword above all else
I choose the sword above all else.


        Wel als ik dan hier kiezen zal
        zoo kieze ik dan het zweerd voor al
        zoo kieze ik dan het zweerd voor al.


But first take off your overrobe
'cause maiden's blood spreads out so wide
'cause maiden's blood spreads out so wide.


        Maer trekt eerst uit uw opperst kleed
        want maegdenbloed dat spreit zoo breed
        zoo 't u bespreide het ware mi leed.


Before he'd taken out his robe
his head fell right before his feet!
His tongue still spoke a few words:


        Eer dat zijn kleed getogen was
        zijn hoofd lag voor zijn voeten ras
        zijn tong nog deze woorden sprak:


Go in the wheat field over there
and blow my horn as hard you can
so all my friends can hear it.


        Gaet ginder in het koren
        en blaest daer op min horen
        dat al mijn vrienden 't hooren.


No, in the wheat field I won't go
and on your horn I will not blow
and on your horn I will not blow.


        Al in het koren en gaen ik niet
        op uwen horen en blaes ik niet
        op uwen horen en blaes ik niet.


Go to the gallow over there
and bring the pot with salve to me
and spread it along my blood-red neck.


        Gaet ginder onder de galge
        en haelt daer een pot met zalve
        en strijkt dat aen mijn rooden hals!


No, to the gallow I won't go
I will not strike along your neck
and follow a muderer's advice.


        Al onder de galge en gaen ik niet
        uw rooden hals en strijk ik niet
        moordenaers raed en doe ik niet.


She grabbed the head firm by the hair
and washed it in a water well
and washed it in a water well.


        Zi nam het hoofd al bi het haer
        en waschte 't in een bronne klaer
        en waschte 't in een bronne klaer.


She straddle-legged sat on the horse
and singing and tinkling she rode through the wood
and singing and tinkling she rode through the wood.


        Zi zette haer schrijlings op het ros
        al zingend en klingend reed zi door 't bosch
        al zingend en klingend reed zi door 't bosch.


When she was half way through the wood
Halewijn's mother came along:
young lady, did you see my son?


        En als zi was ter halver baen
        kwam Halewijns moeder daer gegaen:
        schoon maegt, zaegt gi mijn zoon niet gaen?


Your son, lord Halewijn, has gone hunting
you won't see him again your life
you won't see him again your life.


        Uw zoon heer Halewijn is gaen jagen
        g' en ziet hem weer uw levens dagen
        g' en ziet hem weer uw levens dagen.


Your son, lord Halewijn, is dead
his head is lying in my lap
my apron is red of the blood.


        Uw zoon heer Halewijn is dood
        ik heb zijn hoofd in mijnen schoot
        van bloed is mijnen voorschoot rood!


When she arrived at her father's gate
she blew the horn just as a man
she blew the horn just as a man.


        Toen ze aen haers vaders poorte kwam
        zi blaesde den horen als een man
        zi blaesde den horen als een man.


And when her father learned of it
he was glad to see she had returned
he was glad to see she had returned.


        En als de vader dit vernam
        't verheugde hem dat zi weder kwam
        't verheugde hem dat zi weder kwam.


They feasted with a festive meal
the head was put on the table
the head was put on the table.


        Daer werd gehouden een banket
        het hoofd werd op de tafel gezet
        het hoofd werd op de tafel gezet.


  Dutch medieval folk song.

Commentary: Dating uncertain. It was only noted for the first time in the 19th century (J.F. Willems collected it around 1830 from a loose song sheet). German versions date back to the 16th century.

Content: Lord Halewijn sings a song that is irresistible. No one returns from him. A king's daughter rides towards him. He takes her to a gallows field. She chooses to be killed by sword (the noble way, instead of the gallow). But she has a ruse, a plan, and she succeeds in cutting his head of. Then the heroine returns home.

Sources (Dutch Song Database):
•  J.F. Willems, Oude Vlaemsche liederen (1848)
•  F. van Duyse, Het oude Nederlandsche lied (1903)
•  M. Coune, De Vlaamsche Zanger (1927)
•  Pollmann en Tiggers, Nederlands volkslied (1956, 1977)

dutch flag the netherlands holland   Lyrics 'Heer Halewijn zong een liedekijn' on Dutch website: Nederlandse volksliedjes H.
 







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Once there where two young king's children
they both loved each other so dear
but they could not reach each other
the water was much too deep.
What did she do? She burned three candles
at nightfall when it became dusk.
My darling come here, swim across it.
The king's son, so young still, he did.


        Het waren twee conincskinderen
        sy hadden malcander soo lief
        sy conden byeen niet comen
        het water was veel te diep.
        Wat deed sy? Sy stac op drie keersen
        als savonts het dagelicht sonc.
        "Och liefste comt, swemter over!"
        Dat deed sconincs sone was jonc.


This was overheard by an old hag
she was mean from head to toe.
And she did blow out the candles
therefore our young hero did drown.
"Oh, mother, my well-beloved mother
my head suddenly aches so bad!
Can I take a walk for a short while
a stroll here along the seaside."


        Dit sach daer een oude quene
        een al soo vilijnich vel
        sy ghinker dat licht uytblasen
        doen smoorde die jonghe held.
        "Och moeder, mijn liefste moeder
        mijn hoofdjen doet mijnder soo wee!
        Mocht icker een wijle gaen wandelen
        gaen wandelen al langs de see!"


"Oh, daughter, my dearest daughter
you can not go alone
but wake up your youngest sister
take her with you on the walk."
"Oh, mother, my youngest sister
she is still so little, a child
she picks and she gathers all flowers
that she finds along the way.


        "Och dochter, mijn liefste dochter
        alleen en moogt ghy daer niet gaen
        maer wect uwe joncste suster
        laet die met u wandelen gaen."
        "Och moeder, mijn joncste suster
        is noch een soo cleinen kint
        sy pluckter wel alle die bloemekens
        die sy onder weghen vint.


She gathers all the flowers there
the green leaves she leaves behind
and then the people do complain
the king's children they have done that."
"Oh, daughter, my dearest daughter
you can not go walking alone
but wake up your youngest brother
and take him with you on your walk."


        Sy pluckter wel alle die bloemekens
        die bladerkens laet sy staen
        dan claghen die lieden en seggen:
        dat hebben sconincs kindren ghedaen."
        "Och dochter, mijn liefste dochter
        alleen en moogt ghy daer niet gaen
        maer wect uwen joncsten broeder
        laet hem met u wandelen gaen."


"Oh, mother, my youngest brother
is still such a little child
he runs after all the little birds
that come along on the way".
The mother then went to the chapel
the daughter did go her own way
until she arrived at the water
and found there her father's fisherman.


        "Och moeder, mijn joncste broeder
        is noch een soo cleinen kint
        hy loopter naer alle de voghels
        die hy onder weghen vint."
        De moeder ginc naer de kerke
        de dochter ginc haren ganc
        tot sy er by twater een visscher
        haers vaders visscher, vant.


"Oh, fisherman", she spoke to this man,
"My father's fisherman good
please can you fish once for me
you will be rewarded for this".
He threw his fish net in the water
the lead pieces sank to the ground
it took not a long time the fishing
he dredged up the king's sun, so young.


        "Och visscher," soo sprac sy, "visscher
        mijns vaders visscherkijn
        ghy soudt er voor my eens visschen
        het sal u ghelonet sijn!"
        Hy smeet sijne netten int water
        de loodekens ginghen te gront
        int corte was daer gevisschet
        sconincs sone, van jaren was jonc.


What took she then from her finger?
a golden ring, red gleaming gold.
"Keep this", she said, "fisherman, good man,
this red golden ring is for you".
She held then her love in her arms tight
and gave him a kiss on his mouth
"Oh, little mouth, if you could speak still,
oh, little heart, if you had health".


        Wat troc sy van haren hande?
        een vingherlinc roode van goud.
        "Houd daer," seyde sy, "goede visscher,
        dees vingherlinc roode van goud."
        Sy nam doen haer lief in haer armen
        en custe hem aen sijnen mond
        "och mondeken, cost ghy noch spreken
        och herteken, waert ghy gesont."


She carried her love, her beloved,
and jumped with him into the sea.
"Farewell", she said, "beautiful world
you will never see me again,
farewell, oh my father and mother
my loved ones and friends all the same,
farewell, my dear sister and brother
I go to the kingdom of heaven.


        Sy hielter haer lief in haer armen
        en spronc er met hem in de see.
        "Adieu," seyde sy, "schoone wereld
        ghy sieter my nimmermeer
        adieu, o mijn vader en moeder
        mijn vriendekens alle ghelijc
        adieu, mijne suster en broeder
        ic vaere naer themelrijc."


  Dutch medieval folk songs.

Commentary: Narrative love song.

Content: Two children of kings are in love. They can't be together, the water in between them is too deep. The boy tries to swim over, but drowns in the sea. The girl has him dredged up by a fisher man and then drowns herself.

Sources (Dutch Song Database):
•  Codex Meerman (around 1525)
•  Haerlems Oudt Liedt-Boeck (1640)
•  H. Hoffmann von Fallersleben, Holländische Volkslieder (1833)
•  F. van Duyse, Het oude Nederlandsche lied (1903)
•  Pollmann en Tiggers, Nederlands volkslied (1941, 1956, 1977)

dutch flag the netherlands holland   Lyrics 'Het waren twee koningskinderen' on Dutch website: Nederlandse volksliedjes W.
 







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          ©  copyright translations, sheet music and music

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"The day dawns in the east        (noble lady speaking)
it lightens everywhere.
How little knows my beloved
where I will go from here."


        Het daghet in den oosten
        het lichtet overal.
        Hoe luttel weet mijn liefken
        och waer ick henen sal.


"Ah, would they be my friends        (admirer speaking)
who are my enemies
then I would elope you out
this land, my well-beloved."


        Och warent al mijn vrienden
        dat mijn vijanden sijn
        ick voerde u uuten lande
        mijn lief, mijn minnekijn.


"Where is it you would take me        (noble lady speaking)
brave knight fierce of heart.
I'm lying with my lover
with greater dignity."


        Dats waer soudi mi voeren
        stout ridder wel gemeyt?
        Ic ligge in mijns liefs armkens
        met grooter waerdicheyt.


"You're lying in his arms now?        (admirer speaking)
By God, you tell a lie!
Go to the green leafy limetree
you'll find him there defeated."


        Ligdy in uus liefs armen?
        Bilo, ghi en segt niet waer!
        Gaet henen ter linde groene
        versleghen so leyt hi daer.


The girl she put on her cloak
and she went down the path
all to the green leafy limetree
where she found the dead body.


        Tmeysken nam haren mantel
        ende si ghinc eenen ghanck
        al totter linde groene
        daer si den dooden vant.


"Alas, you are defeated
choked up in all your blood!
It is because of your bragging
and of your pride and arrogance.


        Och, ligdy hier verslaghen
        versmoort in al u bloet?
        Dat heeft gedaen u roemen
        ende uwen hooghen moet.


Oh, you lie here defeated
who used to bring me comfort.
What did you leave behind for me?
So many mournful days."


        Och, ligdy hier verslaghen
        die mi te troosten plach?
        Wat hebdy mi ghelaten?
        So menighen droeven dach.


The girl she put on her cloak
and she went down the road
all to her father's castle gate
that she found all unlocked.


        Tmeysken nam haren mantel
        ende si ghinck eenen ganck
        al voor haers vaders poorte
        die si ontsloten vant.


"Ah, is here maybe one lord
one generous knight or nobleman
who will help me to bury
my dead beloved?"


        Och, is hier eenich heere
        oft eenich edel man
        die mi mijnen dooden
        begraven helpen can?


The gentlemen were silent
they held their tongue and shut their mouth.
The girl she turned around
and walked away just weeping.


        Die heeren sweghen stille
        si en maecten gheen geluyt.
        Dat meysken keerde haer omme
        si ghinc al weenende uut.


She took him in her arms then
and kissed him on his mouth
it lasted only a short time
it lasted many hours.


        Si nam hem in haren armen
        si custe hem voor den mont
        in eender corten wijlen
        tot also menigher stont.


Eventually she digged there
with his polished sword.
And with her snow-white arms
she layed him in the grave.


        Met sinen blancken swaerde
        dat si die aerde op groef
        met haer snee witten armen
        ten grave dat si hem droech.


"Now I will leave forever
to a small nunnery
I'll wear a habit, a veil in black
and be a nun in a monastery."


        Nu wil ic mi gaen begeven
        in een cleyn cloosterkijn
        ende draghen swarte wijlen
        ende worden een nonnekijn.


With her voice clear and pure
the high mass she did sing
with her snow-white hands
she rang the little bell.


        Met haer claer stemme
        die misse dat si sanck
        met haer snee witten handen
        dat si dat belleken clankc.


  Dutch medieval folk songs.

Commentary: The song has a couple of well-known medieval literary themes. The morning that breaks for two lovers (in this case, the lover turns out to be dead) (daybreak song). The man who wants to elope with the girl he loves. The green lime tree (linden-tree) as a symbol of love, a meeting place for secret lovers. The love that has to stay secret at a court or castle. The cloak, as sign of nobility. Becoming a monk or nun, swear an eternal oath, after a love affair ends in tragedy.

Text: The first verse could also be spoken by the lover, early in the morning, before he is leaving to the duel (the man-to-man fight over a woman) with the admirer.

Content: The song begins with a conversation between a girl (a noble lady) and an admirer. This admirer wants to elope with her, but she says she has already a lover, who gives her more dignity. He tells her that he has defeated that lover and he is lying dead under a green lime tree (the tree of love). The cloak is a sign of her noble birth. Her lover should have kept their love secret, now he's killed for it.

She asks the noble men in her father's house to help her bury him. That will give her status as surviving relative, widow, but also will give a possible child a status as heir. However, the noble men refuse to help her. She buries her lover herself and becomes a nun. (The 'little bell' was rang during a mass).

In scientific research this has been explained against the backdrop of the changes in habits of marriage and laws of succession in the 11th century. A church marriage became the standard and the power and possessions belonged more and more to the men. Based on the feudal system, the girl asks for an honourable funural and her rights of inheritance. But in the new system, the people in control are no longer willing to give that to her.

Sources (Dutch Song Database):
•  Het Antwerps liedboek (1544), calling it 'an old song'
•  Haerlems Oudt Liedt-Boeck (1716)
•  J.F. Willems, Oude Vlaemsche liederen (1848)
•  Pollmann en Tiggers, Nederlands volkslied (1941, 1956, 1977)

dutch flag the netherlands holland   Lyrics 'Het daghet in den oosten' on Dutch website: Nederlandse volksliedjes D.
 



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