by William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)

It was a lover and his lass
Language: English 
It was a lover and his lass,
  With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino
That o'er the green [corn-field]1 did pass.
  In [the]2 spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding a ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

[Between the acres of the rye,
  With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
These pretty country [folks]3 would lie,
  In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding a ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring. ]4

[This carol they began that hour,
  With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
How that [a life]5 was but a flower
  In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding a ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.]4

[And therefore take the present time]6
  [With]7 a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
For love is crownéd with the prime
  In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding a ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

B. King sets lines 4-6
G. Bush sets stanzas 1-2, 4
H. Clough-Leighter sets stanzas 1, 3
A. Foote sets stanzas 1, 4
T. Morley sets stanzas 1, 3-4
F. Delius sets stanzas 1-2, 4

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Morley: "cornfields"
2 omitted by Barton, Bush, and Morley, passim.
3 Delius, Dring: "folk"
4 In Dring and Parry, only the first and third lines are set.
5 sometimes "life"?
6 Barton, Morley : "Then, pretty lovers, take the time"
7 Bush: "And with"

Authorship:

Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 24
Word count: 190