"There Were Three Ravens" (There were three rauens)
English folk ballad dates back to 1611 where it appears
in Melismata. "Musicall Phansies Fitting the Court",
"Citti"e, and "Countrey Humours" by T. Ravenscroft. It
is also known as "The Twa Corbies".
The ballad takes the form of three scavenger birds
conversing about where and what they should eat. One
mentions a recently slain knight, but they find he is
guarded by his loyal hawks and hounds. Furthermore a
"fallow doe", an obvious metaphor for the knight's
pregnant ("as great with young as she might go") lover
or mistress (see "leman") comes to his body, kisses his
wounds, bears him away, and buries him, leaving the
ravens without an apparent meal. The narrator, however,
gradually departs from the ravens' point of view,
ending with ?God send euery gentleman/Such haukes, such
hounds, and such a Leman? - the comment of the narrator
on the action, rather than the ravens whose discussion
he earlier describes.
Although this piece was originally written for Voices
(SATB), I arranged it for Flute Ensemble (Piccolo,
Flute & Alto Flute) at the request of a member.