The Lyrics of Henry VIII/Alac alac what shall I do, Henry VIII

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Lyrics  |  Manuscript  |  Authors and Composers
The Lyrics of Henry VIII
Appendix 1: Lyrics by Occasion/Theme  |  Appendix 2: Textual/Musical Witnesses  |  Appendix 3: Bibliography

Iff I had wytt for to endyght Hey nony nony nony nony no

[f. 35v]

The Kyng H. viij.

Early Modern English                 Modern English
Alac alac what shall I do. Alac! Alac! What shall I do?
for care is cast in to my hart. For care is cast in to my heart.
And trew loue lokked therto
And true love locked thereto.

Commentary[edit]

“Alac alac what shall I do” is likely three lines of a longer love song, perhaps that of “Hey nony nony nony nony no” (H 26). “Alac alac what shall I do” presents the lament of a devout lover unsure of his lady, as does “Hey nony,” where this concern sees a much fuller development and, ultimately, a positive conclusion.

H presents “Alac alac what shall I do” in three voices, complete and presented on the verso only. Ringler MS suggests that the text is probably incomplete (51), and the peculiar layout in H suggests that this song and that which follows it, “Hey nony nony nony nony no” (H 26), are quite closely related (see Stevens MCH8, #30, note). “Hey nony nony nony nony no” is unattributed, and its original numbering in the MS (“xxvij”) corresponds with the heading “28. Alac alac what shall I do” in the table of contents (f. 2v). Also, the text on f. 36r lacks any sort of block initial capital which is used to offset voices and lyrics from one another, and the matter of each song is complementary.[1] The incipit “Alasse a lasse what shall I doo” is listed as part of the contents of DBla (f. 59r), which contains many songs of a similar nature, including a great many pieces by Wyatt. This piece, however, does not survive in the manuscript outside of this mention.

“Alas alas what shall I do” is indexed in Robbins Index & Suppl. 135.5, Boffey, Ringler MS TM88, Crum A843. It is reprinted in Flügel Anglia 236, Stevens M&P 396, Stevens MCH8 26, and Trefusis 72.

Textual Notes[edit]

Texts Collated[edit]

H1,2,3 (f. 35v).

3 lokked] lokked H2,3, lakked H1

References[edit]

  1. Perhaps, for example, the complaint of the maid in “Hey nony nony nony nony no” is “Alac, alac,” for “Hey nony nony” would be much less appropriate.