Parody-Mass: the Armed Man

Listen! to Josquin Des Prez Missa Sexti Toni on the hit song of the fourteenth century, L’Homme Arme: the Armed Man. The You Tube video will open in a separate window.

1. Kyrie

Sir Haubregon de Fer went riding out
Of fear he had little, and little doubt;
He was at Acre, and in Germany,
And fought he fealtly in Hungary
But he fell in with maidens in a route
And it was a Lady and her train
Who made his eyes the tears to rain.

Giants he’d slain, and cleft in twain,
And serpents in what is now Libya,
And pagan knights in Latvia,
But her weird word sealed his fate
Her foot was ‘pon his addled pate.

Which is why we break the bread
Sir Haubregon he broke his head
May Christ him save in mercy la
For in Adam all did fall.

The world grows now very old
It warms and then it is strangely cold
Judgement comes with fire this time
Jesu Maria forgive us our primeval slime,
And your poet his feeble rime.

Kyrie eleison.

2. Gloria

Demons about St Michael’s feet do creep
But they have lost their might and main:
For the gates of hell did not prevail
When the veil was rent in twain.
Gloria in Excelsis.

‘Twas much later, in time of Luther
Men they trembled at Satan’s name
And even Hitler’s haters worship him
With emulate envy of his fame
Wanting to be man of the year,
Wanting to be he who is fear,
Wanting to be l’homme arme.
So against them we so sing
And so we dance in a ring
Gloria in excelsis Deo.

3. Credo

Belief like a leaf from men did spring
After the end of the world,
When William Norman his men did fling
Upon a wall of shields.

The best part is the worst part,
That is to say unexpected,
When the credits roll, and the story has been told
And it is time for men to bed to creep
To find the world’s rest, eternal sleep.

Et unam, sanctam, et apostolicam Ecclesium
Shivered like glass to tears and wrath
Polluted by predatory priests,
And poisoned by Pius, who did not hear the Jews.
But all must fall on faith alone
Like bungee jumpers on the telephone.

3. Sanctus

Josquin had a thousand regrets
Dufay he had none
Both made slow pilgrim progress
Towards Heaven in the sun.

Life was hard, lit only by fire
Tended by women,
Built as if it would aspire
To the blue robes of Mary who was said by men to be in Heaven.

Mother Goddess of Europe,
Pray for us and intercess
We seem to be in quite a mess.

Holy mackerel, holy fish
Bless and break this, we would wish
Three time holy and round again
We cannot hope to remove the stain.

4. Agnus Dei

Ite missa est,
And we go out to find the spring,
As Mom was carried out, into the sudden sun
She was true to her wedding ring,
And now in Heaven she doth sing.

“Be a lamb”, she’d chirp,
In the accents of New York,
“And get me my cigarettes and beer.”

And when we were good, which was seldom enough,
She would say in the Irish way,
“God love yah”, as if she could not.

But if she died on the last day of the darkened year,
How is it that I remember bearing her casque
With the priest walking before, casting aspersions
Mere water upon the flock, blessing them with water,
Into what seems spring sprung, and the ice-tent struck?

Poem: Edward G. Nilges 3 April 2010 amdg
Figure 1: “Kundry”, ink, wash, marker and computer color, 2006, Edward G. Nilges
Figure 2: Film still, Parsifal 1983


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