Fortunately for music historians and re-creationists, Thomas Ravenscroft collected and published the street, folk, and drinking music of his day – mostly the late 1500s. Many of the rounds Ravenscroft collected are still popular today in some form.
Since today is Easter, I offer the second round in Ravenscroft’s collection Pammelia(1609), “O My Fearful Dreams”. This is a beautifully haunting round suitable to it’s text:
O my fearful dreams never forget shall I,
methought I heard a maiden[‘s] child condemned to die,
whose name was Jesus.
The original text does say “malden child” – probably a misprint. I believe “maiden’s child” was intended with its reference to the virgin Mary, but “maiden child” would fit the music as well.
This is a round of three voices, meaning it has three parts, at the unison, meaning each part starts on the same note. Generally “at the unison” also means at the octave, so parts can be transposed down or up an octave in order to fit the range of the singer or instrument.
I am using a publish format where the lines of the round music stack up in the way that they are related in performance. When voice 1 gets to the beginning of the second line (2), voice 2 should enter at the beginning of the piece. When voice 1 gets to the beginning of the third line (3) voice 3 should enter at the beginning.
Here is my modern transcription:
This is what it sounds like – the round is played through once in its entirety, then all voices are added.
Ravenscroft music requires some interpretation when making a modern transcription; some pieces more than others. Luckily, facsimiles of the Ravenscroft publications, including the page with this round, exist online at this wonderful web site. So you can create your own interpretation if you are so inclined.