Now is the month of maying – Thomas Morley

This short piece (roughly 2 minutes), written by Thomas Morley for only male voices has really cheery character. It is the first one of this project/research point I’ve listened to so far, that involves an additional instrument, the tambourine. (At least in the recording I’ve listened to).

The structure is built up in a simple way. Every phrase comes twice, the first one loud, the second one in a quieter repetition. Every repetition is followed by a short part where the singers are just singing the syllables “fa lalal..etc.)After the second verse an already mentioned tambourine starts playing in the background, the volume of it seems to be adapting to the voices.

The fifth verse is the only one that sticks out with the usual structure. For this stanza, the tambourine stops playing for the first half of the verse, which surprisingly, this time is quieter than the second half, for which the tambourine starts playing again.

The sixth phrase again, is the same as the third and the fourth, first loud, then quiet and accompanied by the tambourine.

The text is the following:

Now is the month of maying,

When merry lads are playing,
Fa la la la la la la la la,
Fa la la la la la la lah.
Each with his bonny lass
Upon the greeny grass.
Fa la la la la la la 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… (1)

I already had the pleasure to look into some of Morleys work at my previous course (Composing Music). The pieces I had listened to from him where really entertaining, so I wasn’t surprise as this one was just as nice to listen to. Especially the “fa la la” phrases always lifted the spirit of the piece.

IMSLP-Petrucci Music Library, (2019), Now is the Month of Maying (Morley, Thomas) [online]. Available at: (Accessed: 02 May 2019)