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Mui Grandes Noit’ e Dia

Galician Song – Cantiga de Santa Maria n. 57

Mui grandes noit' e dia (Greatly night and day) is one of the 420 poem-songs called the Cantigas de Santa Maria (Songs to Holy Mary). (1) The description of Cantiga 57 in the original manuscript reads:

"This is how Holy Mary cured the thieves who were maimed because they robbed a lady and her company who were going on a pilgrimage to Montserrat."

On their way to Montserrat, a lady and her company stopped at a spring to eat dinner; suddenly a band of thieves rushed upon them and robbed them of all their money. The lady went away very sad, and when she arrived at Montserrat, she let out great cries to Our Lady: "Holy Virgin, Queen, give me vengeance, for I was robbed while on your pilgrimage!"

When the monks came to hear what was happening and learned of the episode, the prior of the monastery quickly rode out in search of the thieves and thus to avenge the poor lady.

The prior arrived at the spring, and there he saw the band of thieves, badly bruised, blind and stiff. One of the worst of them had a chicken leg in his hand (most likely also stolen); he had been prepared to eat it when something stopped him and he froze, the chicken leg stuck in his mouth. Not only could he neither eat the chicken leg nor take it out of his mouth, but he was also struck blind and mute, a punishment from God.

The prior and monks took the thieves in their sorry state and placed them at the altar at the foot of Our Lady, to either die or be healed accordng to God's good pleasure. Suddenly, they were all miraculously healed of their bruises, blindness and muteness. Then, they swore to never steal from Christians again and resolved to abandon their sinful ways. (2)

The Cantiga teaches us that Our Lady, as Mother of God and thus the best of all mothers, always protects her children. Catholics should have confidence in her, because she always "defends her own from harm, and unerringly to safety she guides them."

Mui grandes noit' e dia is here interpreted by Enea Sorini, Maitrise de Radio France and Les Musiciens de Saint Julien. Note: only the refrain and verses 2, 4, and 9 are sung in the recording (marked in blue below), but we have included all nine verses and their translations below for our readers.

Old Galician Text (3):

Mui grandes noit’ e dia
Devemos dar porende
Nós a Santa Maria
Graças: porque defende
Os seus de dano, e sem engano
Em salvo os guia.

1. E daquesto queremos
Um miragre preçado
Dizer porque sabemos
Que será ascuitado
Dos que a Virgem santa
Amam, porque quebranta
Sempr’ aos soberviosos,
E os bõos avanta
E dá-lhes siso e paraíso
Com tod’ alegria.

2. Em Monsarrat vertude
Fez, que mui longe sõa
A Virgem, se mi ajude
Ela, por uma bõa
Dona que na montanha
Di, mui grand’ e estranha,
Deceu a uma fonte
Com toda sa companha,
Por i jantarem,
Des i folgarem
E irem sa via.

3. U seíam comendo
Cabo daquela fonte,
A eles mui correndo
Saiu bem desse monte
Reimond’, um cavaleiro
Roubador e guerreiro,
Que de quanto tragiam
Nom lhes leixou dinheiro
Que nom roubasse e nom filhasse
Com sa companhia

4. A dona mantenente,
Logo que foi roubada,
Foi-s’ ende com sa gente
Mui trist’ e mui coitada.
A Monsarrat aginha
Chegou essa mesquinha,
Dando grandes braados:
“– Virgem santa, reinha,
Dá-me vingança, ca pris viltança
Em ta romaria!”

5. E os frades saírom
Aas vozes que dava;
E quand’ esto oírom,
O prior cavalgava
Corrend’, e foi mui toste,
E passou um recoste
E viu cabo da fonte
De ladrões grand’ hoste
Jazer maltreitos, cegos, contreitos,
Que um nom s’ ergia.

6. Entr’ esses roubadores
Viu jazer um vilão
Desses mais malfeitores,
Uma perna na mão
De galinha, freame
Que sacara com fame
Entom dũ’ empãada
Que so um seu çurame
Comer quisera, mais nom podera,
Ca Deus nom queria.

7. Ca se lh’ atravessara
Bem des aquela hora
U a comer cuidara,
Que dentro nem a fóra
Nom podia sacá-la,
Nem comer, nem passá-la.
Demais jazia cego
E ar mudo sem fala
E mui maltreito por aquel preito,
Ca xo merecia.

8. O prior e seus frades,
Pois que assi acharom
Treitos por sas maldades
Os ladrões, mandarom
Que logo di levados
Fossem, atravessados
Em bêstias que trouxeram,
Ant’ o altar deitados:
Que i morressem ou guarecessem
Se a Deus prazia.

9. E, pois que os ladrões
Ant’ o altar trouxerom
Por eles orações
E pregairas fezerom.
E log’ houverom sãos
Olhos, pees e mãos;
E porende jurarom
Que nunca a crischãos
Jamais roubassem, e se quitassem
Daquela folia.

English Translation (2)

Greatly, night and day
We should evermore give
[We] to Holy Mary
Thanks: because she defends
Her own from harm, and unerringly
To safety she guides them.

1. And concerning this, we wish
A precious miracle
To tell, because we know
That it will be heard
By those who love the Holy Virgin
Because she breaks [humbles]
Always the proud,
And the good she favors,
And gives them wisdom and paradise
With all gladness.

2. In Montserrat, a miracle
[She] performed, of great renown,
The Virgin – may [she] help me –
She [performed], for a good
Lady, who in the mountains
There, [which were] vast and eerie,
Came down to a spring
With all her company,
To have dinner,
To rest there,
And to go on their way.

3. While they were eating
Beside that spring,
Toward them came rushing
Coming out from that mount.
Raymond, a knight.
Robber and warrior, took
From them all that they were carrying.
He did not leave them with any money
But stole everything and fled
With his band [of accomplices].

4. The lady, head of the group,
After she was robbed,
Went on with her group
Very sad and pitiful;
To Montserrat
That poor woman arrived,
Letting out great cries:
“Holy Virgin, Queen,
Give me vengeance, for this outrage [I suffered]
[While] On your pilgrimage!”

5. And the monks came out
In response to her cries;
And when they heard of this,
The prior mounted his horse
Riding off, going with great haste.
And he rounded a bend
And saw next to the spring
A great host of thieves
Lying [so] beaten, blind, and stiff,
That not one could arise.

6. Among those robbers
He saw lying there a vile one,
One of the worst of the evildoers,
A leg in his hand
Of a chicken, cold,
Which he had taken with hunger
From a pasty
From under his cape
He tried to eat, but could not,
For God did not want it.

7. It had gotten stuck
From that moment
When he tried to eat it,
He could not put it in or out,
He could not remove it,
Neither eat it nor pull it out.
Further he lay there blind
And mute, unable to speak,
And very bruised because of that punishment,
Which he deserved.

8. The prior and his monks,
After they found them this way
In that sorry state for their misdeeds
Ordered that those thieves
Be quickly taken away from there,
That they be carried over the backs
Of the beasts that they had brought,
And then they lay them on the altar [of Our Lady]:
That they might die or be healed
If it so pleased God.

9. And after the thieves
were brought before the altar,
For them prayers
And praises [to God] were made.
And then soon they were healed
Eyes, feet and hands,
And from then on, they swore
That never more would they rob Christians
Again, and that they would abandon
That madness [of their sinful ways].

lyrics and music Muito faz grand' erro Cantiga 209

For a high-resolution JPG version, click here.

For a PDF version, click here.

For a version in D major, click here.

For a facsimile of the original manuscript, click here.

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Muito faz grand' erro Cantiga 209

King Alfonso teaches his subjects about the mercies of Our Lady.
From the Prologue of the Escorial Codex, here.

For a high-resolution JPG version of the above illumination, see here.

  1. These Cantigas were written under the aegis of King Afonso X the Wise (13th century) in honor of Our Lady and are accounts of Marian miracles sung in the Galician dialect, which is still to be found in some areas of Northwest Spain and Northern Portugal. The Cantigas have survived in four manuscript codices: two at El Escorial, one at Madrid's National Library, and one in Florence, Italy. These manuscripts are richly illuminated with narrative vignettes and colored miniatures showing pairs of musicians playing a wide variety of instruments. The compilation of the Cantigas is one of the largest collections of monophonic songs from the Middle Ages and is characterized by the mention of Our Lady in every song, while every tenth song is a hymn.
  2. Translation adapted from Songs of Holy Mary of Alfonso X, The Wise: A Translation of the Cantigas de Santa Maria, by Kathleen Kulp-Hill, Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Tempe, Arizona, 2000.
  3. Text courtesy of José-Martinho Montero Santalha's 2021 critical edition, here.
  4. Ibid. footnote 3

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