A Robin, Jolly Robin
DESCRIPTION: "(Ah/Hey) Robin, (jolly/gentle) Robin, Tell me how thy (lady/leman) doth And thou shalt know of mine." "My lady is unkinde, perdie, Alack why is she so?" One singer says his lady is constant; the other says women change like the wind
AUTHOR: Sir Thomas Wyatt?
EARLIEST DATE: 1765 (Percy) (quoted by Shakespeare in "Twelfth Night")
KEYWORDS: love nonballad betrayal
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Percy/Wheatley I, pp. 185-187, "A Robyn Jolly Robyn" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Noah Greenberg, ed., An Anthology of English Medieval and Renaissance Vocal Music, pp. 84-87 (1 text, 1 tune with harmonization)
ST Perc1185 (Full)
NOTES: Often (though not universally) credited to Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503?-1542), and obviously well-known by the time Shakespeare wrote "Twelfth Night" (circa 1600); it is quoted by the Clown in IV.ii.71f. The music is credited to Williams Cornysh(e) (died c. 1523). The Cornysh(e) music first appears in British Library MS. Add. 31922.
It's not likely that this is a traditional song, but there are strong variations in the words (and Shakespeare's version does not look original); I include it because it was recorded on the "New Golden Ring," and people might think it traditional.
Wyatt had an incredibly complex career during the reign of Henry VIII (among other things, he was involved with Anne Boleyn before Henry noticed her), and is credited, among other things, with introducing the sonnet to England. - RBW
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