by Edmund Spenser (1552 - 1599)

Ring ye the bels, ye yong men of the...
Language: English 
Ring ye the bels, ye yong men of the towne,
And leave your wonted labors for this day:
This day is holy; doe ye write it downe,
That ye for ever it remember may.
This day the sunne is in his chiefest hight,
With Barnaby the bright,
From whence declining daily by degrees,
He somewhat loseth of his heat and light,
When once the Crab behind his back he sees.
But for this time it ill ordained was,
To choose the longest day in all the yeare,
And shortest night, when longest fitter weare:
Yet never day so long, but late would passe.
Ring ye the bels to make it weare away,
And bonefiers make all day; 
And daunce about them, and about them sing,
That all the woods may answer, and your eccho ring.

R. Vaughan Williams sets lines 1-4, 14-17

About the headline (FAQ)

Confirmed with The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, Volume V, edited by Francis J. Child, London: Imprinted for William Ponsonbie, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the Signe of the Bishops Head, 1591.

Notes from text:
Barnaby the bright. The difference between the old and new style at the time this poem was written was ten days. The summer solstice therefore fell on St. Barnabas's day, the 11th of June. C.

Modernized spelling used in Vaughan Williams's music:

Ring ye the bells, ye young men of the Town,
And leave your wonted labours for this day.
This day is holy; Do ye write it down,
that ye for ever it remember may.
Ring ye the bells, to make it wear away,
And bonfires make all day,
And dance about them, and about them sing:
that all the woods may answer, and your echo ring.


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

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Gustav Ringel

This text was added to the website: 2020-01-11
Line count: 17
Word count: 135