Cheerful Voices: Dou way Robyn/Sancta Mater

Dou way, Robyn, the child wile weepe; dou way Robyn.

Sancta mater gratiae, stella claritatis
visita nos hodie plena pietatis.

Veni, vena veniae mox incarceratis,
solamen angustiae, fons suavitatis.

Recordare, mater Christi, quam amare tu flevisti;
juxta crucem tu stetisti, suspirando viso tristi

O, Maria, flos regalis, inter omnes nulla talis;
Tuo nato specialis nostrae carnis parce malis

O, quam corde supplici locuta fuisti,
Gabrielis nunci i cum verba cepisti.

’En ancilla Domini’, propere dixisti;
vernum vivi gaudii post hoc perperisti.

Gaude, digna, tam benigna caeli solio;
tuos natos, morbo stratos, redde filio.

There is a disturbing ambiguity in this thirteenth-century piece of music.

Dou way, Robyn, the child wile weepe; dou way Robyn.

These are the words to the repeated pattern the piece opens with. They could be “Stop it, Robin, the child will weep; stop it, Robin.” As in, hush. Be quiet. Don’t wake the baby.

But according to a thread on Mudcat the meaning could be quite a bit more forceful. “Leave off,” as in get away, stop it, don’t touch me, leave me alone.

Looking at the English translation of the Latin prayer to Maria that acts as the main melody, which do you think? Is this someone bidding a small bird to cease chirping, or something rather more sinister?

Holy mother of grace, star of brightness,
visit us today, full of compassion.

Come soon, channel of pardon, to those in prison,
as a solace of misery, a source of sweetness.

Remember, mother of Christ, how bitterly thou didst weep;
thou didst stand beside the cross sighing at the sad sight.

O Mary, royal flower, among all women nonesuch,
in thy son unequalled, forgive the sins of our flesh.

O, with how humble a heart thou didst speak
when thou didst receive the words of Gabriel the messenger.

’Behold the handmaid of the Lord’, thou didst quickly say;
thereafter thou didst bear the springtime of living joy.

Rejoice, worthy lady, so gracious, in the throne of heaven;
restore thy children, brought low by vice, to the Son.

One thought on “Cheerful Voices: Dou way Robyn/Sancta Mater

  1. Hi,

    I wonder if it is related to “Who Killed Cock Robin”.

    The rhyme records a mythological event, such as the death of the god Balder from Norse mythology,[1] or the ritual sacrifice of a king figure, as proposed by early folklorists as in the ‘Cutty Wren’ theory of a ‘pagan survival’.[3][4]

Comments are closed.