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The LiederNet Archive

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The three ravens

Language: English

There were three ravens sat on a tree,
Down a down hey down hey down.
[And]1 they were [as]2 black as they might be,
With a down.
Then one of them said to his [mate]3:
"Where shall we our breakfast take?"
With a down derry derry derry down down.

Down in yonder greenfield,
Down a down hey down hey down.
There lies a knight slain under his shield;
With a down.
His hounds they lie down at his feet,
So well they [can]1 their master keep.
With a down derry derry derry down down.

His hawks they fly so eagerly,
Down a down hey down hey down.
There is no fowl dare [come him]4 nigh
With a down.
[But] down there comes a fallow doe,
As great with young as she might go.
With a down derry derry derry down down.

[O she lifts]5 up his bloody head,
Down a down hey down hey down.
And kissed his wounds that were so red.
With a down.
She got him up upon her back
And carried him to [an]6 earthen lake.
With a down derry derry derry down down.

She buried him before the prime,
Down a down hey down hey down.
She was dead herself ere evensong time.
With a down.
[Now]7 God send every gentleman
Such [hounds, such hawks]8 and such a leman.
With a down derry derry derry down down.

Translation(s): DUT

List of language codes

View original text (without footnotes)
1 omitted by Ireland.
2 omitted by Grainger.
3 Grainger: "make"
4 Ravenscroft, Ireland: "him come"
5 Ravenscroft, Ireland: "She lifted"
6 omitted by Grainger and Ireland.
7 omitted by Ravenscroft.
8 Ravenscroft: "hawks, such hounds"
Note: "leman" means 'sweetheart'

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Set in a modified version by Percy Aldridge Grainger, Ivor Gurney, Frederic Ayres, Arnold Edward Trevor Bax, Sir.

Available translations, adaptations, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) (Tinelot Wittermans) , title 1: "Dutch Translation", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.

Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:01:54

Line count: 35
Word count: 232

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Dutch Translation

Language: Dutch (Nederlands) after the English

 Er zaten drie raven in een boom

 Ze waren zo zwart als het maar kon

 Een van hen zei tegen z'n vrind
 Waar zullen we ontbijten?"

 Daarginds in het veld

 Ligt een ridder onder z'n schild

 Zijn honden liggen aan z'n voeten
 Om hun meester te beschermen.

 Z'n valken vliegen zo onstuimig

 Dat geen andere vogel hem na durft te komen

 Daar komt een zwangere hinde

 Ze tilde zijn bebloede hoofd op

 En kuste zijn bebloede wonden

 Ze zette hem op haar rug
 En droeg hem naar een droge bedding.

 Ze begroef hem voor de ochtend metten

 En zelf stief ze voor de vesper

 God geve elke edelman
 Zulke valken, zulke honden en zo'n geliefde.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The material directly above is protected by copyright and appears here by special permission. If you wish to copy it and distribute it, you must obtain permission or you will be breaking the law. Once you have permission, you must give credit to the author and display the copyright symbol ©. Copyright infringement is a criminal offense under international law.


  • Translation from English to Dutch (Nederlands) copyright © by Tinelot Wittermans, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.


    licenses (AT) lieder (DOT) net
    (licenses at lieder dot net)

Based on


Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.

Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:01:54

Line count: 20
Word count: 117