We have Sting to thank for this weeks song. Yes, Sting. British musician, front man for the Police. That guy is the reason that I know this (& several other) late 16th century songs.
Back in 2007, when I was first starting to reenact, I immediately began hunting for period appropriate music. Not because I have any illusions of becoming a musician but because I needed something to help get me in the mood during the endless hours of sewing I was doing. On on of my weekly trips to the public library I happened across the CD Songs from the Labyrinth, a collection of 16th century John Dowland songs performed by none other than Sting & the amazing lutenist Edin Karamazov. I have since gone on to learn the lyrics to several of these songs & given a quiet moment in camp might even begin singing one.
Composer John Dowland is well-known for his melancholy songs, a very popular style during the late 16th century and also for his focus on the lute. His 1597 “First Book of Songs” is one of the most influential lute collections of the era. The songs are arranged so that they can be performed either by a solo singer & lutenist or by various combinations of singers & instruments. This variety certainly led to its popularity. His 5 other books didn’t lack in acclaim either, although it is mostly scholars and fans of early modern music that most enjoy is compositions. His music enjoys a resurgence in the early 20th century becoming popular among classical guitarists and the re-blooming lute community.
Today’s particular tune is a favorite, not for just singing but for falling asleep. I have had to delete it from my music collection for fear of dozing off every time it comes up in a playlist!