When May is in his prime (John Ireland)

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  • (Posted 2023-11-01)  CPDL #76871:     
Editor: David Anderson (submitted 2023-11-01).   Score information: Letter, 8 pages, 429 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes:

General Information

Title: When May is in his prime
Composer: John Ireland
Lyricist: Richard Edwardes
Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: SecularPartsong

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 1920 Novello and Co.

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

(modernized spelling)

When May is in his prime, then may each heart rejoice;
When May bedecks each branch with green, each bird strains forth his voice,
The lively sap creeps up into the blooming thorn,
The flowers, which cold in prison kept, now laugh the frost to scorn.
All Nature’s imps triumph, while joyful May doth last;
When May is gone, of all the year the pleasant time is past.

May makes the cheerful hue, May breeds and brings new blood,
May marcheth throughout every limb, May makes the merry mood.
May pricketh tender hearts, their warbling notes to tune,
Full strange it is, yet some, we see, do make their May in June.
Thus things are strangely wrought, whiles joyful May doth last;
Take May in time, when May is gone, the pleasant time is past.

All ye that live on earth, and have your May at will,
Rejoice in May, as I do now, and use your May with skill.
Use May while that you May, for May hath but his time;
When all the fruit is gone, it is too late the tree to climb,
Your liking, and your lust is fresh whiles May doth last;
When May is gone, of all the year the pleasant time is past.