Sumer is Icumen In

text and notes
Phillipa Hardman & Barbara Morris

lettering and illustrations
Sally Castle

1 901677 48 6

978 1 901677 49 2
(13 digit ISBN)


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Sumer Is Icumen In

If you visit the Abbey Ruins you will find, on the north wall of the
Chapter House, a plaque engraved with the famous medieval song Sumer is icumen in. This joyful round, almost certainly written in the Abbey around 1250, is the first known secular English song for six or more voices, and displays a musical complexity way ahead of its time. Its alternative name, the Reading Rota, has given the town a permanent and important place in the history of music, and Sumer is perhaps the most enduring monument of our long-lost royal monastery. Two Rivers Press, Reading’s own publisher, is celebrating Midsummer Day by producing a beautifully illustrated version of this song, with a full-colour facsimile of the original manuscript and an explanatory text by Chaucer scholar Phillipa Hardman of Reading University. Sally Castle’s lively illustrations exactly portray the celebration of spring (not summer – read it to find out why) which is depicted in both words and music. And if you want to try singing it, there’s a modern version of the music as well.

This pocket-sized book is an ideal present or stocking-filler


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