José Carreras – Greensleeves (with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra)

Accompanied by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and the Crouch End Festival Chorus, the Spanish tenor José Carreras sings Greensleeves, a traditional English folk song and tune, over a ground either of the form called a romanesca or of its slight variant, the passamezzo antico. At the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.

There is a persistent belief that Greensleeves was composed by Henry VIII (28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547, the King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death) for his lover and future queen consort Anne Boleyn (c. 1501 – 19 May 1536, the Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of King Henry VIII). Boleyn allegedly rejected King Henry’s attempts to seduce her, and this rejection may be referred to in the song when the writer’s love “cast me off discourteously”. However, the piece is based on an Italian style of composition that did not reach England until after Henry’s death, making it more likely Elizabethan in origin.

A broadside ballad by this name was registered at the London Stationer’s Company in September 1580, by Richard Jones, as “A Newe Northen Dittye of ye Ladye Greene Sleves”. Six more ballads followed in less than a year, one on the same day, 3 September 1580 (“Ye Ladie Greene Sleeves answere to Donkyn hir frende” by Edward White), then on 15 and 18 September (by Henry Carr and again by White), 14 December (Richard Jones again), 13 February 1581 (Wiliam Elderton), and August 1581 (White’s third contribution, “Greene Sleeves is worne awaie, Yellow Sleeves Comme to decaie, Blacke Sleeves I holde in despite, But White Sleeves is my delighte”). It then appears in the surviving A Handful of Pleasant Delights (1584) as A New Courtly Sonnet of the Lady Green Sleeves. To the new tune of Green Sleeves.

The tune is found in several late-16th-century and early-17th-century sources, such as Ballet’s MS Lute Book and Het Luitboek van Thysius, as well as various manuscripts preserved in the Seeley Historical Library at the University of Cambridge.

“I have always been very keen to try to sing original music from many countries in the world, not only the classic countries in music like Italy, France, England, Germany and Austria, but also from more exotic countries.” — José Carreras

Lyrics

1. Verse:
Alas my love you do me wrong
To cast me off discourteously;
And I have loved you oh so long
Delighting in your company.

Chorus:
Greensleeves was all my joy
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves was my heart of gold
And who but my lady Greensleeves.

2. Verse:
I have been ready at your hand
To grant whatever thou would’st crave;
I have waged both life and land
Your love and goodwill for to have.

Chorus:
Greensleeves was all my joy
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves was my heart of gold
And who but my lady Greensleeves.

Chorus Choir solo:
Greensleeves was all my joy
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves was my heart of gold
And who but my lady Greensleeves.

3. Verse:
Greensleeves now farewell, adieu
God I pray to prosper thee
For I´m still thy lover true
Come once again and love me

Chorus:
Greensleeves was all my joy
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves was my heart of gold
And who but my lady Greensleeves.

Sources

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