There are many renditions of Sumer is Icumin In on Youtube. This is my favorite, since it faithfully retains all of it's striking characteristics.
This is a remarkable song in many respects. Dating from the mid 13th century, it is clearly in a major key, perhaps the earliest known example of tonal music. It also features an ostenato base line, doubled in canon, and melody in canon - also possible firsts.** In all there are six distinct voices. Probably a first for that as well.*** This song anticipates later musical developments (ostenato, canon, tonality, multi-voice texture) by hundreds of years.
Wow. Really. Just -- WOW!
Here are the lyrics, per Wikipedia:
- Sumer is icumen in,
- Lhude sing cuccu!
- Groweþ sed and bloweþ med
- And springþ þe wde nu,
- Sing cuccu!
- Awe bleteþ after lomb,
- Lhouþ after calue cu.
- Bulluc sterteþ, bucke uerteþ,
- Murie sing cuccu!
- Cuccu, cuccu, wel singes þu cuccu;
- Ne swik þu nauer nu.
- Sing cuccu nu. Sing cuccu.
- Sing cuccu. Sing cuccu nu!
Modern English translation
- Summer is a-coming in,
- Loudly sing, Cuckoo!
- The seed grows and the meadow blooms
- And the wood springs anew,
- Sing, Cuckoo!
- The ewe bleats after the lamb
- The cow lows after the calf.
- The bullock stirs, the stag farts,
- Merrily sing, Cuckoo!
- Cuckoo, cuckoo, well you sing, cuckoo;
- Don't you ever stop now,
- Sing cuckoo now. Sing, Cuckoo.
- Sing Cuckoo. Sing cuckoo now!
* Manuscript image from this source.
** All true, according to this source.
*** Verified at this source.
*** Explored here: Roscow, G. H. 'What is "Sumer is icumen in"? Review of English Studies 50 (1999), 188-95, according to this.