Songs »Greensleeves

greensleevesThe traditional ballad Greensleeves, which was quite popular (understandably) in its day–even getting a Shakespeare shout-out in The?Merry Wives of Windsor–has more recently been adapted (recently as in 1865) into the Christmas classic What Child is This? by the deeply depressed and terminally ill British insurance man William Chatterton Dix.

While this may be the most familiar rendition of the song in this Christian nation, the original lyrics are much more secular, concerning the woe of a broken heart.

Your vows you've broken, like my heart,
Oh, why did you so enrapture me?
Now I remain in a world apart
But my heart remains in captivity.

Legend has it that this enduring song was written by King Henry VIII for the future queen and victim of the axe (actually, in her case a sword was used), Anne Boleyn. It's probably the most famous song to come from the Renaissance.

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Posted on September 1, 2008

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