Music Monday: Now Is The Month of Maying 1595

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Thomas Morley Image One
Image Credit: All Poetry

Stepping backwards a bit, I stumbled across something prior to 1600…

Thomas Morley was an English composer, theorist, singer and organist of the Renaissance. He was one of the foremost members of the English Madrigal School. Living in London at the same time as Shakespeare, Morley was the most famous composer of secular music in Elizabethan England. [He] was active in church music as a singer, composer and organist at St Paul’s Cathedral [and] was involved in music publishing. [He] lived for a time in the same parish as Shakespeare and, a connection between the two has been long speculated but, never proven. In addition to his madrigals, [he] wrote instrumental music, including keyboard music […].

Now Is The Month of Maying is one of the most famous of the English ballets […]. It is based on the canzonet So Ben Mi Chi Ha Bon Tempo used by Orazio Vecchi […]. It was printed in […] Morley’s First Book of Ballets to Five Voyces [in] 1595. The song delights in bawdy double-entendre. It is, apparently, about spring dancing but, this is a metaphor for making love/sex. For example, a barley-break would have suggested outdoor sexual activity (rather like […] a roll in the hay). The use of such imagery and puns increased during the Renaissance.

It was also heard in 1964 on The Andy Griffith Show episode The Song Festers.

Now Is The Month of Maying Image Two
Image Credit: &

Now is the month of maying,
When merry lads are playing,
Fa la la la la la la la la,
Fa la la, etc…
Each with his bonny lass
Upon the greeny grass.
Fa la la, etc…

The Spring, clad all in gladness,
Doth laugh at Winter’s sadness,
Fa la la, etc…
And to the bagpipe’s sound
The nymphs tread out their ground.
Fa la la, etc…

Fie then! Why sit we musing,
Youth’s sweet delight refusing?
Fa la la, etc…
Say, dainty nymphs, and speak,
Shall we play barley break?
Fa la la, etc…

Additional Reading & Sources:
Thomas Morley (Britannica)
Thomas Morley (Elizabethan-Era Site)
The Song Festers (IMDB)
Now Is The Month of Maying (Wikipedia)
Thomas Morley (Wikipedia)

Barney’s Voice Lessons

Music Monday: Messe de Nostre Dame 1360s

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Kyrie da Missa Image One
The Kyrie
Image Credit: &
Author: manuscrito sob a
supervisão do autor

I’m still digging around in the old stuff. I found this piece and thought it interesting.

From Wikipedia:

Messe de Nostre Dame (Mass of Our Lady) is a polyphonic mass composed before 1365 by French poet and composer Guillaume de Machaut […]. Widely regarded as one of the masterpieces of medieval music, and of all religious music, it is historically notable as the earliest complete setting of the Ordinary of the Mass attributable to a single composer […].

It’s Structure:

The Messe de Nostre Dame consists of 5 movements: the Kyrie (Eleison…”Lord, have mercy”), Gloria (in Excelsis Deo…”Glory to God in the highest”), Credo (Nicene Creed), Sanctus (“Holy”) and Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God”), followed by the dismissal Ite, missa est (Mass Response: Deo Gratias or “Thanks be to God”). The tenor of the Kyrie is based on Vatican Kyrie IV, the Sanctus and Agnus correspond to Vatican Mass XVII and the Ite is on Sanctus VIII. The Gloria and Credo have no apparent chant basis, although they are stylistically related to one another. Machaut’s Messe de Nostre Dame is for four voices rather than the more common three. Machaut added a contratenor voice that moved in the same low range as the tenor, sometimes replacing it as the lowest voice.

The information is rather wonky and, not only have I never studied music theory, my education on Catholic Mass is limited to a short stint as a member in an Anglican church in Austin, TX, a decade ago. That being said, what I find fascinating about this composition is that Machaut combined each part into an artistic whole, the earliest known example of it unified. Previously, the items were performed non-consecutively and, separated by prayers and chants.

[Instrumental Version of The Kyrie by Guillaume de Machaut]

[Modern Take on Kyrie by Patrick Lenk]

And, just because I could, I’m ending with Mr. Mister.