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Greensleeves (arr. Howarth)

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Elgar Howarth

Traditional, arranged by Elgar Howarth

General Info

Year: 1994
Duration: c. 4:25
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Folk song
Publisher: Chester Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $19.00


Full Score
Piccolo Trumpet (or E-flat Soprano Trumpet)
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Greensleeves is a traditional English folk song. A broadside ballad by the name A Newe Northen Dittye of ye Ladye Greene Sleves was registered by Richard Jones at the London Stationer's Company in September 1580, and 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 in the University of Cambridge.

There is a persistent belief that Greensleeves was composed by Henry VIII for his lover and future queen consort Anne Boleyn.] 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 to be Elizabethan in origin.

A possible interpretation of the lyrics is that Lady Green Sleeves was a promiscuous young woman, perhaps even a prostitute. At the time, the word "green" had sexual connotations, most notably in the phrase "a green gown", a reference to the grass stains on a woman's dress from engaging in sexual intercourse outdoors.

An alternative explanation is that Lady Green Sleeves was, through her costume, incorrectly assumed to be sexually promiscuous. Her "discourteous" rejection of the singer's advances supports the contention that she is not. In Nevill Coghill's translation of The Canterbury Tales', he explains that "green [for Chaucer’s age] was the colour of lightness in love. This is echoed in 'Greensleeves is my delight' and elsewhere."

Christmas and New Year texts were associated with the tune from as early as 1686, and by the 19th century almost every printed collection of Christmas carols included some version of words and music together, most of them ending with the refrain "On Christmas Day in the morning". One of the most popular of these is What Child Is This?, written in 1865 by William Chatterton Dix.

- Program Note from Wikipedia

Commercial Discography


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