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a collection of literature from poets, bards, songwriters, and skalds in the SCA

In Praise Of The New Knighthood

byram's picture
Fri, 08/14/2015 - 12:23 -- byram

Chorus: Non nobis Domine, non nobis,
sed nomeni tuo da gloriam!

There is a new knighthood arose in the land,
where Jesus, our Lord left his mark in the sand. 1
It’s armour the armour of faith and of steel,
its sword is of justice’s metal to wield.2

(chorus)

What use is the war horse? Its might can not save,
It’s folly and ruin, and death and the grave. 3
But those who have chosen the mantle of Christ,
are safely assured of eternal life.4

(chorus)

Take heed worldly knights, hearken unto this call,
your trinkets, and baubles mean nothing at all.
What use are adornments that won’t stop a sword? 5
What cause is more just than in serving the Lord? 6

(chorus)

No need for such raiment have true Knights of Christ,
their habit sewn simple of black or of white.
They carry the cross of our savior above, 7
their bath is of valor, and sweat and of blood.8

(chorus)

Come join for salvation, for heavenly grace.
Come fight for King Christus, in his holy place.9
His foemen, your foemen, shall reap what is sown.
His struggle, your struggle, His battle your own.10

(chorus)

Not for our name, but Yours oh Lord,
to You give all glory11, the richest reward!
Show mercy, oh God, to this heavenly horde,
let never the heathens say "Where is their Lord?"11

(chorus)

Documentation / Explanation (Razo): 

Background:

This piece is written in honor of the founding of Atlantian Preceptory of the Order of the Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon, commonly known as the Templars. Crusading songs of this type were quite popular in the 12c. (for example "Chevalier, Mult Estes Guariz") and were employed by the secular lords of the day to promote interest in the defense, and later the attempt to recapture the Holy Land of Outremer from the Saracens.

This song is inspired by scripture and the work "Liber ad milites Templi: De laude novae militae (In Praise of the New Knighthood.") a letter written by Bernard, abbot of Clairvaux (later Saint Bernard) to Master Hugues de Payens, who is considered the founder of the Order. This letter was a tool for recruitment for the Order, and defense of the Holy Land. In it Bernard chastises the secular knights of his day, and extols the virtues of the Templars, and the holy city of Jerusalem they defend. This song is a musical tribute to "Liber ad milites Templi: De laude novae militae" and the Templars.

The Chorus is taken from Psalm 115, and was the motto of the Templars. It translates as "Not in our name, oh Lord, not in our name, but to Yours is the glory."

Lyric Footnotes:

Here are the quotes from Scripture and "Liber ad milites Templi: De laude novae militae (In Praise of the New Knighthood.") that the Lyrics are based on. I tried to retain the message of the original pieces, while conforming to the structure of the meter. My intent was to create a singable, catchy tune with a refrain that the Brothers can sing as a march.

  1. "IT SEEMS THAT A NEW KNIGHTHOOD has recently appeared on the earth, and precisely in that part of it which the Orient from on high visited in the flesh."- from "Liber ad milites Templi: De laude novae militae" (Hereafter referred to as St. Bernard)
  2. "He is truly a fearless knight and secure on every side, for his soul is protected by the armor of faith just as his body is protected by armor of steel. He is thus doubly armed and need fear neither demons nor men. ."- St. Bernard
  3. "Armies do not save Kings, brute force does not spare soldiers. The War-horse is a sham; despite its power, it will not save." – from Psalm 33
  4. "What a glory to return in victory from such a battle! How blessed to die there as a martyr! Rejoice, brave athlete, if you live and conquer in the Lord; but glory and exult even more if you die and join your Lord. Life indeed is a fruitful thing and victory is glorious, but a holy death is more important than either. If they are blessed who die in the Lord, how much more are they who die for the Lord!"- St. Bernard
  5. "What then, O knights, is this monstrous error and what this unbearable urge which bids you fight with such pomp and labor, and all to no purpose except death and sin? You cover your horses with silk, and plume your armor with I know not what sort of rags; you paint your shields and your saddles; you adorn your bits and spurs with gold and silver and precious stones, and then in all this glory you rush to your ruin with fearful wrath and fearless folly. Are these the trappings of a warrior or are they not rather the trinkets of a woman? Do you think the swords of your foes will be turned back by your gold, spare your jewels or be unable to pierce your silks?"- St. Bernard
  6. But if it is permitted to all those so destined by God, as is indeed the case provided they have not embraced a higher calling, to whom, I ask, may it be allowed more rightly than to those whose hands and hearts hold for us Sion, the city of our strength?"- St. Bernard
  7. "Thus they shun every excess in clothing and food and content themselves with what is necessary." -St. Bernard
  8. "Indeed, they seldom wash and never set their hair--content to appear tousled and dusty, bearing the marks of the sun and of their armor." - St. Bernard
  1. This is the revenge which Christ contrives against his enemies, to triumph powerfully and gloriously over them by their own means. Indeed, it is both a happy and fitting thing that those who have so long fought against him should at last fight for him.-St. Bernard
  2. "BUT THE KNIGHTS OF CHRIST may safely fight the battles of their Lord, fearing neither sin if they smite the enemy, nor danger at their own death; since to inflict death or to die for Christ is no sin, but rather, an abundant claim to glory. In the first case one gains for Christ, and in the second one gains Christ himself."-St. Bernard
  3. "Not to Us, O Lord, not to Us but to your name give glory...Why should the pagans say,"Where is your God?" Our God is in Heaven; whatever He wills, He does!"- from Psalm 115 I.1

As a final aside, I would be remiss if I did not mention how unusual this piece would have been in period, as a anthem for the Templars, for as Saint Bernard said: "As for jesters, magicians, bards, troubadours and jousters, they despise and reject them as so many vanities and unsound deceptions." Brother Guilliem-Michel de Byram wouldn’t have written such a piece, however; Bryce de Byram, as a troubadour in the service of Richard Coeur-de-Lion (the monarch who sold the Templars Cyprus, and traveled home from the Holy Land with Templars at his side) certainly would.

Resources:

  • Hendrik van der Werf: The Chansons of the Troubadour & Troveres: A study of the melodies and their relation to the poems,1972, A. Oosthoek’s Uitgeversmaatschappiji NV/ Utrecht
  • Judith Upton-Ward: The Rule of the Templars, Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1992
  • Liber ad milites Templi: De laude novae militae (In Praise of the New Knighthood): Bernard of Clairvaux, prologue-chapter five, translated by Conrad Greenia ocso, from Bernard of Clairvaux: Treatises Three, Cistercian Fathers Series, Number Nineteen, © Cistercian Publications, 1977, pages 127-145
  • The Music of the Crusades: David Munrow
  • translations by Norman Clare, 1970