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Edi Beo Thu, Hevene Quene

Medieval English Song to Our Lady

Edi Beo Thu, Hevene Quene (Blessed Be Thou, Heavenly Queen) is a late medieval two-part gymel (an early English genre of polyphony) dating to the 13th century and composed in honor of Our Lady.

It is based on a manuscript held in Llanthony Secunda Priory in Gloucestershire, England. Although the song is said to be influenced by the revolutionary troubadors of the later medieval times, Edi Beo Thu still expresses much of the sacrality, light and grandeur of the Middle Ages, which also was marked by great devotion to Our Lady.

The song is a tender prayer of a knight to the Heavenly Queen, asking for her mercy and goodness. The knight declares himself a vassal of Our Lady, completely dedicated to her service, and praises her for her purity, sweetness and gentleness. He reflects on how Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, came through Our Lady, who is "earth for good seed", on whom "alighted the heavenly dew" through the action of the Holy Ghost.

The melody of Edi Beo Thu is here interpreted by The Dufay Collective.

Note: only verses 1-5 are sung in the recording (marked in navy text), but we have included all the verses below (the others in maroon text)

Listen to Edi Beo Thu Hevene Quene


Old English text:

1. Edi beo thu, hevene quene,
Folkes froure and engles blis,
Moder unwemmed and maiden clene,
Swich in world non other nis.
On thee hit is wel eth sene,
Of all wimmen thu havest thet pris;
Mi swete levedi, her mi bene
And reu of me yif thi wille is.

2. Thu asteghe so the daiy rewe
The deleth from the deorke nicht;
Of thee sprong a leome newe
That al this world haveth ilight.
Nis non maide of thine heowe
Swo fair, so schene, so rudi, swo bricht;
[Me] Swete levedi, of me thu reowe
And have merci of thin knicht.

3. Spronge blostme of one rote,
The Holi Gost thee reste upon;
Thet wes for monkunnes bote
And heore soule to alesen for on.
Levedi milde, softe and swote,
Ic crie thee merci, ic am thi mon,
Bothe to honde and to fote,
On alle wise that ic kon.

4. Thu ert eorthe to gode sede;
On thee lighte the heovene deugh,
Of thee sprong theo edi blede
The Holi Gost hire on thee seugh.
Thu bring us ut of kare of drede
That Eve bitterliche us breugh.
Thu sschalt us into heovene lede;
Welle swete is the ilke deugh.

5. Moder, ful of thewes hende,
Maide dreigh and wel itaucht,
Ic em in thine love bende,
And to thee is al mi draucht.
Thu me sschildghe from the feonde,
Ase thu ert freo, and wilt and maucht;
Help me to mi lives ende,
And make me with thin sone isaught.

6.Thu ert icumen of heghe kunne,
Of David the riche king;
Nis non maiden under sunne
The mei beo thin evening,
Ne that swo derne lovighe kunne
Ne non swo swete of alle thing;
Thi love us brouchte eche wunne:
Ihered ibeo thu, swete thing.

7. Seolcudliche ure Louerd hit dighte
That thu, maide withute were,
That al this world bicluppe ne mighte,
Thu sscholdest of thin boseme bere.
Thee ne stighte ne thee ne prighte
In side, in lende, ne elles where:
That wes with ful muchel righte,
For thu bere thine helere.

8. Tho Godes Sune alighte wolde
On eorthe al for ure sake,
Herre teghen he him nolde
Thene that maide to beon his make;
Betere ne mighte he thaigh he wolde,
Ne swetture thing on eorthe take.
Levedi, bring us to thine bolde
And sschild us from helle wrake.

Modern English translation (1):

1. Blessed be Thou, Heavenly Queen,
People’s comfort and Angels’ bliss,
Mother unblemished and maiden clean (pure),
There is none such other in the world.
In Thee it is easily seen,
Of all women Thou havest the prize;
My sweet Lady, hear my prayer
Have pity on me if Thou will it.

2. Thou ascendest like the ray of dawn
Which brings dark night to an end;
From Thee sprang a new light
That hast lit all this world.
There is no other maid of Thine demeanor
So fair, so beautiful, so fresh, so bright;
[My] Sweet Lady, have pity on me
And have mercy for Thy knight.

3. Blossom sprung from a single root [Jesse],
The Holy Ghost rested upon Thee;
That was for mankind’s benefit
And their soul to redeem.
Lady mild, soft and sweet,
I cry to thee for mercy, I am Thy servant [vassal],
Both hand and foot [= completely],
In all ways that I know.

4. Thou art earth for good seed;
On Thee alighted the heavenly dew,
From Thee sprung the blessed fruit
The Holy Ghost here sowed on Thee.
Thou bringest us out of worry of fear
That Eve bitterly for us brewed.
Thou shalt lead us into heaven;
Right sweet is this same dew.

5. Mother, full of noble virtues,
Maid patient and well-taught,
I am in Thine love bond,
And to Thee is all my desire.
Thou shieldest me from the fiend [devil],
As Thou art noble, and willing and able;
Help me to my life’s end,
And reconcile me with Thine Son.

6. Thou art come of high [great] lineage,
Of David the rich [powerful] King;
There is no maiden under the sun
Who may be Thy equal,
Nor who so intimately can love
Nor so sweet in all things;
Thy love brought joy to each of us:
Praised be Thou, sweet thing.

7. Marvelously Our Lord hath arranged it
That Thou, maid without [knowing man],
That all this world He might confine,
Thou shouldst bear from Thy womb.
Thou neither flinched nor felt pain
In Thy side, loins, nor elsewhere:
That was completely right [fitting],
For Thou bearest thine healer [Savior].

8. When God’s Son alightest
On earth all for our sake,
Higher He would not tie himself
Then that Maid to be His Mother;
He might not have done better,
Nor sweeter thing on earth take.
Lady, bring us to Thine abode
And shield us from Hell’s vengeance.


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Edi beo thu

For a high-resolution JPG version, click here here.

For a PDF version, click here.

For the two-part gymel version, click here.

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Virgin and Child
Ivory statuette, French, ca. 1275–1300.
Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Above, Our Lady affectionately carries the Christ Child; her regal demeanor expresses her Heavenly Queenship, while her gentle smile and beckoning hand seems to invite the pilgrim closer to her and her Son. She is trampling a quasi-human winged serpent, an allusion to her triumph over the devil, foretold in Genesis (3:15): “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed; she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” (2)

Taken from Metropolitan Museum of Art.

  1. English translation adapted from two sources: 1) University of Rochester Robbins Library TEAMS Middle English Texts, and 2) Marcelo C. V. Jorge on YouTube.
  2. Description adapted from Metropolitan Museum of Art.


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