Music: Trad. arr. Sheena Phillips. Words: Anon., adapted
performance time approx 2m 30s
Range S: b – d'' / A: b – b' / T: f# – d' / B: A – c
Price code: B
Complexity: ***

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Here's a contemporary take on Greensleeves, the anonymous 16th century song of unrequited love written to what became one of England's best known tunes. A Newe Northen Dittye of ye Ladye Greene Sleves was published in London in 1580. The tune was clearly popular: over the next century, numerous other songs were written for it – including parodies of the original, a hymn, a warning to Roman Catholic traitors, a new year carol and many others. The lyrics used here are drawn from a 1584 version of the song entitled A New Courtly Sonnet of the Lady Green Sleeves – slightly adapted for this post-modern age. You can read the original lyrics in full at

In this wry arrangement, the tune passes between the basses and the sopranos, accompanied by sweet dissonance throughout!


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

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

Your men were clothed all in green,
And they did ever wait on me:
All this was gallant to be seen,
And yet I would not love thee.

And who did pay for all this gear,
That thou didst spend when pleased thee?
Even I that am rejected here,
And thou disdainst to love me.

Anon. (c. 1584)
Based on three of the original verses

Purchase – 2050: Greensleeves

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