The Lyrics of Henry VIII/Alone I leffe alone, Cooper

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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

Hey nowe nowe O my hart and o my hart


Alone I leffe alone
and sore I sygh for one

a lone I leff alone
and sore I syghe for one

a lone I leue alone
and sore I sygh for one

Doctor Cooper

Textual Commentary[edit | edit source]

“Alone I leffe alone” is a song bemoaning solitude, with an ambiguous play in the second line referring either to the speaker’s self-pity (the “one” being the speaker) or to the speaker’s longing for the company of a specific other. This lyric’s adaptation in Thynne’s Chaucer and Kele’s Christmas carolles newely inprynted, noted below, suggests that the latter of these two possibilities is more probable. A popular lyric in its time, “Alone I leffe alone” has both secular and religious associations. It is noted in “I have non English convenient and digne,” attributed to John Lydgate (Minor Poems 281; A Balade in commedation in Thynne’s Chaucer 374–75): “That for you singe, so as I may, for mone / For your departing; alone I live, alone” (ll. 104–105). The two lines are used as a burden for a lyric appearing in PRO Exchequer Miscellanea 163/23/1/1,[1] and it is listed as the name of the air for “Wan ic wente byyonde the see” CGon (41).[2] A later carol on the Virgin and the Son—“Alone, alone, alone, alone / Sore I sygh, and all for one” (Kele’s Christmas carolles newely inprynted 17)—adapts these lines to its burden and takes the matter of the lyric from “Alone, alone, alone, alone, / Here I sytt alone, alas, alone” (LFay ff. 48v–50r).[3]

1 leffe Live.

“Alone I leffe alone” is in the form of a round set for three voices. There exists little formal distinction (no spacing, line breaks, or illuminated block capitals) separating one voice from the other.

“Alone I leffe alone” is indexed in Robbins Index & Suppl. 266.5, Boffey, and Ringler MS TM138. The piece is reprinted in Flügel Anglia 231, Briggs Collection 3–4, Stevens M&P 390, and Stevens MCH8 17.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. See Greene ([2nd ed.] 247), Robbins Index & Suppl. (#2293.5), and Saltmarsh (14 [facs.], 21 [trans.]).
  2. See also Greene (#418).
  3. See Greene (#164) and Robbins Index & Suppl. (#377.5).