Ye spotted snakes (Richard John Samuel Stevens)

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Editor: Christopher Shaw (submitted 2021-10-04).   Score information: A4, 9 pages, 396 kB   Copyright: CC BY SA
Edition notes: Includes a keyboard reduction of the a cappella choral score. Please click on the link for preview/playback/PDF download.
  • (Posted 2017-11-19)  CPDL #47514:       
Editor: Andrew Sims (submitted 2017-11-19).   Score information: A4, 7 pages, 174 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes:

General Information

Title: Ye spotted snakes
Composer: Richard John Samuel Stevens
Lyricist: William Shakespeare

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: SecularPartsong

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 1783
  2nd published: 1791
Description: Stevens wrote of the 1783 version "I had some qualms upon my mind, respecting the propriety of setting the Burthen [chorus] of this Fairy Song to Music; not considering that if the poet wrote it, I need not be ashamed of setting it to music. However these qualms had got such fast hold in my mind; that in my Composition, I did did omit the Burthen." The revised version was composed and published in 1791 and received "with considerable eclat" It is difficult to see where Stevens considered the impropriety might lie.

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

Ye spotted snakes with double tongue,
Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen;
Newts and blind-worms, do no wrong,
Come not near our fairy queen.
Philomel, with melody
Sing in our sweet lullaby;
Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby:
Never(/Neither) harm nor spell nor charm,
Come our lovely lady nigh;
So, good night, with lullaby.

Weaving spiders, come not here;
Hence, you long-legg’d spinners, hence!
Beetles black, approach not near;
Worm nor snail, do no offence.
Philomel, with melody, etc.

German.png German translation

Bunte Schlangen, zweigezüngt,
Igel, Molche, fort von hier!
Dass ihr euren Gift nicht bringt
in der Königin Revier!
Nachtigall, mit Melodei
sing in unser Eiapopei!
Eiapopeia! Eiapopei!
Dass kein Spruch, kein Zauberfluch
der holden Herrin schädlich sei.
Nun gute Nacht mit Eiapopei!

Schwarze Käfer, uns umgebt
nicht mit Summen! Macht euch fort!
Spinnen, die ihr künstlich webt,
Webt an einem andern Ort!
Nachtigall, mit Melodei, usw.