Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

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singing and drinking. "Illam noctem Angli totam in cantibus et potibus insomnem duxerunt."—c. 13.
Ingulphus, a contemporary of William the Conqueror, speaks of the popular ballads of the English in praise of their heroes; and "William of Malmesbury, in the twelfth century, mentions them also. Three parishes in Gloucestershire were appropriated by William to the support of his minstrel; and although his Norman followers would incline only to such of their own countrymen as excelled in the art, and would listen to no other songs but those composed in their own Norman-French, yet as the great mass of the original inhabitants were not ex­tirpated, these could only understand their own native Gleemen or Minstrels; and accordingly, they fostered their compatriot Minstrels with a spirit of emulation that served to maintain and encourage them and their productions for a consider­able period after the invasion. That they continued devoted to their Anglo-Saxon tongue," notwithstanding the opposition of their tyrannical conquerors, is sufficiently plain.
" Of this," says Percy, " we have proof positive in the old metrical romance of Horn-Child, which, although from the mention of Sarazens, &c, must have been written at least after the first crusade in 1096, yet, from its Anglo-Saxon language, or idiom, can scarcely be dated later than within a century after the Conquest. This, as appears from its very exordium, was intended to be sung to a popular audience, whether it was composed by or for a Gleeman, or Minstrel. 'But it carries all the internal marks of being the work of such a composer. It appears of genuine English growth; for, after a careful examination, I cannot discover any allusion to French or Norman customs, manners, composition, or phraseology : no quotation, 'as the romance sayeth:' not a name or local reference, which was likely to occur to a French rimeur. The proper names are all of northern extraction. Child Horn is the son of AIM (i.e., Olaf or Olave), king of Sudenne (I suppose Sweden), by his queen Godylde, or Godylt. Athulf and Fykenyld are the names of subjects. Eylmer, or Aylmere, is king of Westnesse (a part of Ireland) ; Rymenyld is his daughter; as Erminyld is of another king, Thurstan ; whose sons are Athyld and Beryld. Athelbrus is steward of king Aylmer, &c. &c. All these savour only of a northern origin, and the whole piece is exactly such a performance as one would expect from a Gleeman or Minstrel of the north of England, who had derived his art and his ideas from his Scaldic predecessors there."
Although Ritson disputed the English origin of this romance, Sir Frederick Madden, in a note to the last edition of Warton's English Poetry, has proved Percy to be right, and that the French Romance, Dan Horn (on the same subject as Child Horn), is a translation from the English. In the Prologue to another Romance, King Atla, it is expressly stated that the stories of Aelof (Allof), Tristan, and others, had been translated into French from the English.
> "The dialect of our Alfred, of the ninth century, inhis      in a regular and intelligible series, from the dialect now in
Saxon translation of Boethius and Bede, Is more clear      use to the ninth century: that is, from pure English to
and intelligible than the vulgar language, equally ancient,      pure Saxon, such as was spoken and written by King
of any other country in Europe. For I am acquainted      Alfred, unmixed with Latin, Welch, or Norman."—
with no other language, which, like our own, can mount      Burney's History of Music, vol. ii. p. 209.

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III