The Lyrics of Henry VIII/Grene growith the holy, 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

Hey nony nony nony nony no Whoso that wyll all feattes optayne

[ff. 37v-38r]

The.Kyng .H.viij.   

Early Modern English                                   Modern English
Grene growith the holy Green grows the holly.
so doth the Iue. So does the ivy.
thow wyntes blastys blow neuer so hye Though winter's blasts blow never so high.
grene growth the holy. Green grows the holy.
As the holy grouth grene. As the holly growns green
and neuer chaungyth hew. And never changes hue,
So I am euer hath bene. So I am -- ever have been --
vnto my lady trew. unto my lady true.
A the holy grouth grene: As the holly grows green
with Iue all alone. With ivy all alone,
When flowerys. can not be sene: When flowers can not be seen
and grene wode leuys be gone. And greenwood leaves be gone.
Now vnto my lady Now unto my lady
promyse to her I make Promise to her I make:
Frome all other only From all other, only
to her. I me betake. to her, I me betake.
Adew myne owne lady. Adieu, my own lady.
Adew my specyall. Adieu, my special
Who hath my hart trewly Who hath my heart truly,
be suere and euer shall. Be sure, and ever shall.

Textual Commentary[edit | edit source]

Traditionally associated together with the winter season and specifically Christmas, holly and ivy are (as here) also associated with the male and female, respectively. Together, holly and ivy are often seen in strife over issues such as mastery.[1] Additionally, holly contains associations with foresters (fosters) and hunters,[2] as well as with Christ,[3] and ivy with the Virgin.[4] In this love lyric, Henry draws on some aspects of the traditional holly and ivy carol, but focuses on the amity of the two, their inseparability in adverse circumstances (ll. 9–12), and holly’s invariability (ll. 5–8). In “Grene growith the holy” the lover, on impending departure, assures his lady of his constancy in love. This lyric is mentioned in Philip Lindsay’s Here Comes the King (chap. 8); see W. H. J. “Henry VIII: Verses.”

9 A Ever.
16 betake Entrust, commit, give in charge (OED v. 1.b); also used in the sense of departure (OED v. 2) which follows in l. 17.
19–20 hath my hart . . . and euer shall Cf. Cornish’s “Whilles lyue or breth is in my brest” (H 43): “He hath my hart and euer shall” (l. 37); Wyatt’s “ffortune what ayleth the”: “She hath my hart and euer shall” (l. 25; from DBla); and Henry Bold’s “I love my Love, she not me”: “she hath my heart, / And shall have evermore” (ll. 3–4).

“Grene growith the holy” appears in H in three voices, with voices 2 and 3 given for ll. 1–4 alone. Music is provided for the burden only; the lyrics may have been sung to a well-known tune (Stevens M&P 127–28, 399), as with “Hey nony nony nony nony no” (H 26), “Blow thi hornne hunter” (H 29), “Whilles lyue or breth is in my brest” (H 43), and “Yow and I and amyas” (H 35).

This lyric is indexed in Robbins Index and Suppl. 409.5, Boffey, Ringler MS TM210, and Crum G580. It is reprinted in Chappell Account 374–75, Chambers Lyrics 54, Chambers Verse 34–35, Davies 290–91, Dearmer130, Flügel Anglia 237–38, Flügel Neuengl 135, Greene 304, Padelford 77, Stevens M&P 398–99, Stevens MCH8 28, and Trefusis 13.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. See Greene (Early English Carols, xcviii–ciii, #136 ff.). For example, “Nay, Iuy, nay” (BL Harleian MS 5,396 [275v]; rptd. Greene, Early English Carols, 93–94, #136) the burden of which reads “Nay, Iuy, nay, hyt shal not be, iwys; / Let holy hafe the maystry, as the maner ys” (ll. 1–2); as well, OxEP contains a lyric of the same ilk, in which “Holvyr and Heyvy mad a gret party, / Ho xuld haue the maystre / In londes qwer thei goo” (ff. 30 r–v, ll. 1–3). See also OxHill (f. 251r), wherein the same burden as that given above is employed in a dancing song for men and women (Bontoux 164–65).
  2. “Holy hat berys as rede as any rose; / The foster, the hunters kepe hem fro the doo[s]” (BL Harleian MS 5,396 [ff. 275v ll. 15–17]; rptd. Greene, Early English Carols, 93–94, #136).
  3. See “Her commys Holly” (OxEP f. 53v; rptd. Greene, Early English Carols, 94, #137), which reads “Her commys Holly, that is so gent; / To please all men is his intent. / Alleluia” (ll. 3–5). This association is due in part to holly’s vine-like nature; Christ claims “I am the true vine” (John 15.1–5). Lancashire (Two Tudor Interludes [Youth], 105n45) notes that the character of Youth, intended to characterize Henry VIII (54–55), associates himself with Christ through the vine (105 l. 45).
  4. A carol in OxEP draws associations between the Virgin and Ivy through its employment of the Song of Songs (f. 54r; rptd. Greene, Early English Carols, 95, #138; see also Greene 400 n. 262). Cambridge, St. John’s College MS S. 54 (f. 12r) contains a meditation on the letters of the word “ivy,” the second letter of which is presented thus: “I lykyn to a wurthy wyffe; / Moder sche ys and a madyn trewe; / Non but on I that euer bare lyffe” (ll. 16–18; rptd. Greene, Early English Carols, 95, #139); on lines 23 ff., the Virgin is represented encouraging the speaker to meditate on the letters that make up the word.