Sing Books with Emily, the Blog

The Flower Carol (tempus adest floridum), a Singable Picture Book

Posted on: August 31, 2011


(Arcimboldo’s Vertumnus, 1590-1591)

The wonderful “Flower Carol” song (the tune most know as “Good King Wenceslas“) was published in 1582 (written in Lain) in a collection of carols.   The song appeared near the time when the sublime artist Arcimboldo was painting amazing pictures.

In January 2010, my children and I went to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC to enjoy the visual delights and sur-reality of Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s portraits.

Visit the National Gallery’s exhibition page for this show:
http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/arcimboldoinfo.shtm

Arcimboldo’s series of portraits based on the seasons (which he painted twice, below are selections from both series),

 
 
(Arcimboldo’s Art Clockwise from Left:  Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter)

…and the pictures (fantastical and impossibly detailed compilations of earthly treasures) got me thinking about one of my favorite songs, the “Flower Carol” (the English Translation of “Tempus adest floridum”), a song first written in Latin and published in the 16th century, but was probably sung and played long before it was finally written down.

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A couple YouTubes which feature artwork by Giuseppe Arcimboldo,

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www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Uz7CUhtelA

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjOTGOe0QRk

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A terrific site full of biographical info and artwork by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, here:
http://www.giuseppe-arcimboldo.org/

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An article about the exhibition (which closes 1/9/2011) on Smithsonian.com:
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/Arcimboldos-Feast-for-the-Eyes.html

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Artricle and video about the exhibit on Smithsonian Magazine.com:
http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/tag/national-gallery-of-art/

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Arcimboldo (born 1526, died 1593) was painting in the same time period in which the Flower Carol first debuted in print.

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FLOWER CAROL
“Tempus adest floridum”

Spring has now unwrapped the flowers,
Day is fast reviving
Life in all her growing powers
Towards the light is striving:
Gone the iron touch of cold,
Winter time and frost time,
Seedlings, working through the mould,
Now make up for lost time.

Herb and plant that, winter long,
Slumbered at their leisure,
Now bestirring, green and strong,
Find in their growth a pleasure:
All the world with beauty fills
Gold the green enhancing;
Flowers make glee among the hills,
And set the meadows dancing.

Through each wonder of fair days,
God himself expresses;
Beauty follows all his ways,
As the world He blesses:
So, as He renews the earth,
Artist without rival,
In His grace of glad new birth,
We must seek revival.

Earth puts on her dress of glee;
Flowers and grasses hide her;
We go forth in charity,
Brothers all beside her;
For, as man this glory sees,
In the awakening season,
Reason learns the heart’s decrees,
And hearts are lead by reason.

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For the fun and glorification of combining these artistic treasures (the fabulous fine art of Arcimboldo and the beautiful words, selected verses, and tune of the “Flower Carol”) I made a sing-along booklet (for library and classroom use only),

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“Tempus adest floridum”
FLOWER CAROL

Traditional Words and Tune
Illustrated with Art by Giuseppe Arcimboldo
Book Assembled by Emily Leatha Everson Gleichenhaus
To view or print a copy of the BOOKLET, click here:
flower carol arcimboldo

This item is for classroom, home, or library use only.

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flower carol arcimboldo one pager
“Tempus adest floridum”
FLOWER CAROL

Traditional Words and Tune
Illustrated with Art by Giuseppe Arcimboldo
Book Assembled by Emily Leatha Everson Gleichenhaus
To view or print a copy of the ONE PAGER, click here:
flower carol arcimboldo one pager

This item is for classroom, home, or library use only.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdzZw3LPJts
“Tempus adest floridum,” sung in original latin with fiddle.

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www.youtube.com/watch?v=zv8PgukSLX0
“Tempus adest floridum,” sung in original latin with medieval instruments and choir.

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You are probably familiar with this tune as “Good King Wenceslas.”  But the tune was written sometime before the 16th century to accompany the words in “Tempus adest floridum” (or the “Flower Carol.”)

Preview the song, here:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000SCFNMK/ref=dm_dp_trk3?ie=UTF8&qid=1288295781&sr=301-1
Another instrumental, totally different in style with an “Um-pah” tuba beat, is from The Trail Band, “And Old Fashioned Christmas”  (Track 3). This whole album is my current favorite (as of writing 12/25/2009) to have playing while tinkering around my kitchen.  It’s joyous and fun.

Preview the song here:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000QKXWWW/ref=dm_dp_trk3?ie=UTF8&qid=1288295682&sr=8-1

The multi-talended folk singer Jean Ritchie sings a lovely version of this song on the album “Carols for All Seasons,” track 10. I just love to hear this song with its original words (well, at least in English) accompanied by lap dulcimer, recorder and harpsichord.  And it is enthralling to participate in the ancient folk tradition of repurposing tunes and communicating through song.

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An interesting Wikipedia article about “Good King Wenceslas” (and “Flower Carol”) here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_King_Wenceslas

A Wikipedia article about “Piae Cantiones,” the collection of carols in which “Flower Carol” was originally published in 1582, here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piae_Cantiones

“Tempus adest floridum” from Piae Cantiones, 1582
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Related Posts:
Good King Wenceslas, A Singable Picture Book
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2009/11/27/good-king-wenceslas-a-singable-book-a-winter-song-and-a-mini-play-with-a-message-inluding-lyrics-song-history-and-sing-along-tracks/
Footnote for Flower Carol Illustrated with Arcimboldo’s Art
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/footnote-for-flower-carol-illustrated-with-arcimboldos-art/
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My children and I standing with a sculpture (by Philip Haas) commissioned by the National Gallery to accompany the Arcimboldo exhibit 2010/2011:

(This picture taken by dear friend Caroline! Thank you!)
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My very favorite painting from the exhibition was Arcimboldo’s “The Librarian,” painted in 1566.  To me, it looks like Modern Art painted last year, instead of nearly 4 and a half centuries ago!

And talk about a Singable Picture Book.  I wonder what song he would sing if someone gave him the chance?

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Addendum, April 2012
Flower Carol, Arcimboldo, and Amazing Photographed Modern Reproductions by Klaus Enrique 

I do so love to share THE FLOWER CAROL with kids, for a whole bunch of reasons.  The reasons I love singing and sharing THE FLOWER CAROL include:

  • It is a song written in the 16th century and thus connects us to all the people who have sung this song for hundreds of years
  • It is a beautiful melody with beautiful words and thoughts
  • The tune was used for a popular Christmas carol (“Good King Wenceslas“) and most people don’t know the tune was likely originally written for this song
  • This song was written around the same time that the great artist Arcimboldo was creating his wild composit portraits, so allows an opportunity to draw together great and very old works of art to create something new to inspire and delight children today

And now, something really NEW, natural materials recreations of Arcimboldo’s painted portraits by photographer Klaus Enrique:

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Autumn (after Arcimboldo) 2011 (by Klaus Enrique)

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Flora 2011 (by Klaus Enrique)

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Primavera 2010 (by Klaus Enrique)

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Vertumnus 2010 (by Klaus Enrique)

Some of these photographs are even available for sale from  Robert Burge – 20th Century Photographs Ltd website:
http://www.yaleburge.com/FMPro?-DB=inventory&-Format=photos.htm&PhotoMark=yes&-Max=3&-Find

These amazing pictures are in the May 2012 National Geographic (Visions/Photo Journal section).  I’d gotten to see Arcimboldo’s portraits exhibited at DC’s National Gallery last year.  Klaus Enrique’s work, inspired by Arcimboldo’s original portraits are amazing, beautiful, surprising and charming.

There is more info and other pictures in this online article:
http://davidreport.com/201111/klaus-enrique-gerdes-recreation-work-arcimboldo/

Klaus Enrique’s website:
http://www.klausenrique.com/

A video here of the art gallery exhibition:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8RfhTQg5vg

A blog article about this series of photographs, which got a comment from Mr. Enrique himself calling it the, “best one out there,”
http://quintessenceblog.com/2011/12/arcimboldo-redux-klaus-enrique-gerdes-photography/
This post includes many more examples from Klaus Enrique’s Arcimboldo series.

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This was written as an addendum to my post for the song and Singable Picture Book, MORNING HAS BROKEN, with which I drew a parallel to the thoughts and ideas expressed in THE FLOWER CAROL.

Thoughts from Emily, 8/31/2013

This is one of those songs about which my cup runneth over.  Cat Steven’s Greatest Hits Album is so woven into my college experience that hearing just a few bars any song brings me back to my college dorm and I’m 20 years old again.  Cat Steven’s MORNING HAS BROKEN was the only version that I knew of and I was surprised to learn that it was usually sung as a hymn, words written as poetry and set the tune of an even older hymn.  Learning the history of a song is a great joy for me in crafting it for performance.

I also love to study the words and find parallels with other songs.  Reading the words for MORNING HAS BROKEN frequently brings me to think about the jubilant words of, an even OLDER song, THE FLOWER CAROL also called “Tempus adest floridum”  The tune of FLOWER CAROL will likely sound familiar to the listener as GOOD KING WENCESLAS, but it was originally (or used first) for THE FLOWER CAROL, the words for which are celebratory and full of praise and thanks to the Creator for the rebirth of a new day and the beauty of the earth.

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Related Articles

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MORNING HAS BROKEN AND FLOWER CAROL
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/morning-has-broken-and-flower-carol/

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EARTH’S BEAUTY AND BOUNTY, STEWARDSHIP AND BEING GREEN

Celebrate Earth’s beauty and bounty, being green, and environmental stewardship with this lovely list of Singable Picture Books:
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/singable-picture-books-with-a-green-theme/

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GOOD KING WENCESLAS, A SINGABLE PICTURE BOOK

https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2009/11/27/good-king-wenceslas-a-singable-book-a-winter-song-and-a-mini-play-with-a-message-inluding-lyrics-song-history-and-sing-along-tracks/

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SING ALONG RESOURCES AND PRINTABLE MATERIALS
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/sing-along-resources-2/

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ON MARKET STREET, A SINGABLE ABC PICTURE BOOK (WITH A WINK TO ARCIMBOLDO)

https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/on-market-street-a-singable-abc-picture-book-with-a-wink-to-arcimboldo/

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EASTER

A list of Singable Picture Books that celebrate the Easter
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/singable-picture-books-for-easter/

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Flower Carol, Arcimboldo, and Amazing Photographed Modern Reproductions by Klaus Enrique
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/flower-carol-arcimboldo-and-amazing-photographed-modern-reproductions-by-klaus-enrique/

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EARTH’S BEAUTY AND BOUNTY, STEWARDSHIP AND BEING GREEN

Celebrate Earth’s beauty and bounty, being green, and environmental stewardship with this lovely list of Singable Picture Books:
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/singable-picture-books-with-a-green-theme/

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EASTER

A list of Singable Picture Books that celebrate the Easter
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/singable-picture-books-for-easter/

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EDUCATIONAL CONTENT

A list of SPBs with fun and sneakily educational content.  The kids won’t even know they’re learning!
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/singable-picture-books-with-sneaky-educational-content/

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SUNDAY SCHOOL SONGS
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/sunday-school-songs-in-singable-picture-books/

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MORNING HAS BROKEN AND FLOWER CAROL
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/morning-has-broken-and-flower-carol/

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EARTH’S BEAUTY AND BOUNTY, STEWARDSHIP AND BEING GREEN

Celebrate Earth’s beauty and bounty, being green, and environmental stewardship with this lovely list of Singable Picture Books:
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/singable-picture-books-with-a-green-theme/

4 Responses to "The Flower Carol (tempus adest floridum), a Singable Picture Book"

Thank you very much for the mention!

Thank you very much for the mention

Thank YOU for the super article, pix and info!

[…] in hearing a recording of the original spring carol. The Latin text is on the Cyber Hymnal, the English translation on the Sing with Emily blog, a treasure trove of illustrated […]

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