The Berliner totentanz, Part 3

Berliner totentanz, part 3
Physician, monk and canon


Her doctor meyster in der arstzedye
ik hebbe jw rede gheeschet wol dryge
noch meyne gy leyder lenger to leuen
vnde willen jw nicht thu gade geuen
legget wech dat glaß unde scheydet dar van
vnde seet wu wol ik iw vordantzen kan

Och almechtige god gef du my nu rath
wente dat water is utermaten quat
ik solde wol up dy abbeteken ghan
(wente i)k sie den dot harde vor my stan
(dar jeg)en wasset keyn krut in den garden
(her j)hesu woldestu myner warten
Mr Doctor - master in medical science
I have already asked you three times.
Still you mean, unfortunately, to live longer
and will not give yourself to God.
Put away that glass(1); and separate from it
and see how well I can dance before(2) you.

Oh almighty God, give you me now a remedy
for the water is bad beyond measure.
I suppose I should go to the pharmacy
for I see Death standing close in front of me.
Against this grows no herb in the garden(3).
Lord Jesus, will you wait for me!


Her monick ik wil jw gar ko(rt) wat seggen
den blawen budel moghet gy van jw leggen
vnde ok dar thu dat bereideken wyth
vorsuket nu wu wol jw dat dantzen syt
dat gy vaken hebben gedan myt eren
volget na gy muthen den tal vormeren

Och gode gheselle taste my nicht an
wente ik byn ein begeven geystlick man
ik wuste gar wol dat du woldest komen
doch konde ik der (tyd nicht ramen)
wente nymant wet (wanneer he mut scheyden)
help nu jhesu wor ik my nu (bereyde)
Mr Monk - I'll quite briefly say you something:
the blue purse you must put down
and also moreover the little white biretta.
Try now, how good the dance is to you,
as you have often done with honour.
Follow after - you must increase the number.

Oh good man, do not intrude upon me,
for I am a monastic, clerical man.
I knew full well that you would come
still I couldn't fix the time
since no one knows when he must separate [from life].
Help now Jesus, now that I prepare myself.


Her dumhere grot van hogem stade
thu den dantze der doden ik jw lade
dar gy io niht vele heben na gedacht
de wyle dat gy weren by der wolmacht
legghet myt hulde neder dat byreydeken rot
volghet my sneliken na ik byn de dot

Och du hemellische konigk der eren
nu is dy tyd dat ik muth steruen leren
hedde ik dat gheleret in jvngheren jaren
(hedde ik wol) stervendes ghedach(t to) var(en)
(mut ik nu) steruen in de......
(so helpe my) gades krafft vnd(e)....
Mr Canon,(4) great from high status.
To the dance of the dead I bid you,
which you haven't thought much about,
while you were by good health.
Lay peacefully your little red biretta down.
Follow me quickly. I am Death.

Oh you heavenly king of honour,
now is the time that I must learn to die.(5)
Had I learned this in my younger years,
then I might earlier have thought of dying.
Shall I now die in............
So help me God's powers and.............

Notice that the physician appears among the clergy. See the comments about the sequence.

The physician's verse is reminiscent of that in Dodendantz. See a comparison of Berlin's dance of death with Dodendantz.

Footnotes: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)

Physician with a urine glass from Lübeck's dance of death.
Physician with a urine glass
Glass: Urine glass. Indispensable part of medieval medical science. See the picture to the right.
dance before. . .: vordantzen (High German: vortantzen) means to execute the steps of the dance, so the partner or the audience can learn the dance.
" Contra vim mortis, non est medicamen in hortis." - Against the power of death there is no remedy in the garden.
Canon...: a priest attached to a cathedral. The canons are so called because they lead a rule bound life, "vita canonica".
A special medieval genre of books was the "ars moriendi" or "artes [bene] moriendi" = the art of dying [well] - books telling Christians how to prepare for death.

Up to Berlin's dance of death