As a Beginner-level instrumentalist, I am very challenged in writing lyrics (and I don’t write music at all). So when asked to write music for Aelisia’s procession I had to clarify that I could write lyrics to someone else’s music given sufficient time and access to a recording of the tune (as well as, of course, the notation). I sought guidance from Mistress Elizabeth Piper for a suitable tune and she recommended “L’homme armé”, a 14th century secular piece of unknown authorship. The song was wildly popular in its day and the music had a second life in the Renaissance as the tune to which hymns for Mass were set.
The original lyrics are:
L’homme, l’homme, l’homme armé, l’homme armé.
L’homme armé doibt on doubter, doibt on doubter.
On a fait partout crier, Que chascun se viegne armer d’un haubregon de fer.
L’homme, l’homme, l’homme armé, l’homme armé. L’homme armé doibt on doubter.
I knew that I wanted to touch on two themes: Aelisia’s service to the Crown of An Tir (appropriate as she was being elevated to the Order of the Pelican); and to the quiet affection I have for this amazing woman.
I also wanted to write the piece in French, as the piece was originally written thus and as French was the language of Court during Aelisia’s time period. I broke out an old high school French textbook (I don’t speak French, read very little, and write even less without assistance) and began to jot ideas.
As words began to flow and be fit to the music, Mistress Elizabeth was extremely helpful again to me in two ways. She offered to play the piece and sing the lyrics, so that I could hear how the meter and intonation worked. She also counselled me to consider additional lyrics in English, for the benefit of the largely non-Francophonic audience.
I didn’t want to merely repeat the French lyrics in English (which doesn’t directly work anyway, as schema and cadence have to be adjusted) so I used the opportunity to further develop my themes. Many thanks to Mistress Elizabeth, HL Thalia de Maccuswell, and Lady Quillemette de Calemoutier for their assistance in editing. The final version was quite literally worked out at Mistress Elizabeth’s piano.
Dame, dame, dame de grâce, dame de grâce.
Dame de grâce elle est aimée, elle est aimée.
On a fait partout crier, elle est honorée pour ses services à la couronne.
Dame, dame, dame de grâce, dame de grâce, dame de grâce elle est aimée.
Lady, lady, lady of grace, lady of grace.
Lady of grace you are beloved, you are beloved.
People shout it everywhere: that your beauty lights the night, as moonlight on the Thames.
Lady, lady, lady of grace, lady of grace, lady of grace you are beloved.