And certeinly he hadde a murye note:
Wel koude he synge and pleyen on a rote;
Of yeddynges he baar outrely the pris.
(= And certainly he had a pleasing voice / He could sing well, and play on a lute / For playing ballads he definitely took the prize)
Chaucer swings from quite a heavy ironical condemnation of the Friar’s morals to cheerily praising his musical ability.
‘Note’ is cognate with what we’d call a musical note today, but it was more flexible in Chaucer’s day. ‘Rote’ is a general word for a stringed instrument; the differentiation wasn’t as precise in the late 1300s. ‘Yeddynges’ means ‘ballads’.
To help improve the meaning of these lyrics, visit "The Canterbury Tales (General Prologue)" by Geoffrey Chaucer and leave a comment on the lyrics box