There are probably few more familiar tunes than the English traditional melody “Greensleeves.” From 1580 at least – when it was first mentioned in a registry of ballads printed in London – to the present day, it has been used to bear a hundred or more different texts. (The familiar lines, “Alas, my love, you do me wrong, to cast me off discourteously,” seem to have been first printed in 1584.) Shakespeare knew the song, mentioning the title twice in his “Merry Wives of Windsor.” It was one of these references which prompted Ralph Vaughan Williams to use the tune in his opera “Sir John in Love,” which, in turn, was based on Shakespeare’s “Merry Wives.” (Mrs. Ford. pointing out the discrepancy between Sir John Falstaff’s words and deeds, complains “They do no more adhere and keep place together than the Hundredth Psalm to the tune of Green Sleeves.”)
Label: Westminster Gold WGS-8111
Art Direction: Peter Whorf
Design: Martin Donald/See Hear! & How!
Photography: Fred Poore