Our Hunting Fathers

Song Cycle by (Edward) Benjamin Britten (1913 - 1976)

Word count: 539

1. Prologue [sung text checked 1 time]

They are our past and our future; the poles between
 [ ... ]

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2. Rats away [sung text checked 1 time]

I command that all the rats that are hereabout
That none dwell in this place, within or without;
Through the virtue of Jesus that Mary bore,
Whom all creatures must ever adore;
And through the virtue of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John,
All four Archangels, that are as one;
Through the virtue of Saint Gertrude, that maid clean,
God grant in grace
That no rats dwell in the place
That these names were uttered in;
And through the virtue of Saint Kasi,
That holy man who prayed to God Almighty
Of the scathes they did
His meadows amid
By day and night.
God bid them flee and go out of every man's sight.
Dominus, Deus, Sabbaoth, Emmanuel, great name of
God,
Deliver this place from rats and from all other shame.
God save this place from all other wicked wights,
Both by days and by nights,
Et in nomini Patris et Filii et Sancti Spiriti, Amen.

Authorship

Note: modernized by Auden

Researcher for this text: John Versmoren

3. Messalina [sung text checked 1 time]

Ay me, alas, heigh ho, heigh ho!
Thus doth Messalina go
Up and down the house a-crying,
For her monkey lies a-dying.
Death, thou art too cruel
To bereave her of her jewel;
Or to make a seizure
Of her only treasure.
If her monkey die
She will sit and cry:
Fie, fie, fie, fie, fie!

Authorship

Researcher for this text: John Versmoren

4. Dance of Death (Hawking for the Partridge) [sung text checked 1 time]

 Whurret!        Duty              Beauty
 Quando         Timble
 Travel            Trover
 Jew               Damsel
 Hey dogs hey! Ware haunt hay!

 Sith sickles and the shearing scythe
 Hath shorn the fields of late,
 Now shall our hawks and we be blithe,
 Dame Partridge ware your pate!
 Our murdering kites
 In all their flights
 Will seld or never miss
 To truss you ever and make your bale our bliss.

 Whurret!       Wanton         Sugar         Mistress
 Semster        Faver         Minx
 Callis            Dover         Sant
 Dancer          Jerker        Quoy

 Whurret!        Tricker          Crafty         Minion
 Dido              Civil           Lemmon
 Cherry           Carver        Courtier
 Stately          Ruler          German let fly!

 O well flown, eager kite, mark!
 We falconers thus make sullen kites
 Yield pleasure fit for kings,
 And sport with them in those delights,
 And oft in other things.

Authorship

Researcher for this text: John Versmoren

5. Epilogue and Funeral March [sung text checked 1 time]

Our hunting fathers told the story
 [ ... ]

Authorship

This text may be copyright, so we will not display it until we obtain permission to do so or discover it is public-domain.
First published in Listener, May 1934