The Lyrics of Henry VIII/Hey nony nony nony nony no (Unattributed, Incipit)

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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

Alac alac what shall I do Grene growith the holy

[f. 36r]

Hey nony nony nony nony no hey nony nony nony nony no.
Hey nony nony nony no. hey nony nony nony nony no
Hey nony nony noy no. hey nony nony no.

This other day.
I hard a may.                                       5
ryght peteusly complayne.
She sayd all way.
withowt denay.
her hart was full of payne.

She said alas.                                   10
with owt trespas.
her dere hart was untrew.
In euery place.
I wot he hace
Forsake me for a new.                      15

Seth he untrew.
hath chosen a new.
and thynkes with her to rest.
And will not rew.
and I so trew:                                    20
wherfore my hart will brest.

And now I may.
In no maner away.
optayne that I do sew.
So euer and ay.                                25
with owt denay.
myne owne swet hart adew.

Adew derlyng.
Adew swettyng.
Adew all my welfare.                        30
Adrew all thyng.
to go perteynyng:
cryst kepe yow forme care.

Adew full swete.
Adew ryght mete.                             35
to be a ladys pere.
with terys wete.
And yes replete.
she said adew my dere.

Adew fare well.                                40
Adew labell.
Adew bothe frend and foo.
I can nott tell.
wher I shall dwell.
my hart it grevyth me so.                 45

She had nott said.
but at abrayde.
here dere hart was full nere.
And saide goode mayde.
be not dysmayd.                              50
my love my derlyng dere.

In armys he hent.
that lady gent.
In uoydyng care and mone.
They day thay spent.                       55
to ther in tent.
In wyldernes alone.

Textual Commentary[edit | edit source]

In “Hey nony nony nony nony no” the speaker overhears a complaint of a maiden worried about the constancy of her male lover. The lyric concludes with his return and her comforting. The burden “Hey nony nony. . .” was a very common refrain and expression of mirth; see Coverdale’s mention of it (in note to Cornish’s “Trolly lolly loly lo” [H 33]), and allusions in Shakespeare’s Much Ado (2.3.62–69), Ophelia’s incorporation of it into her song fragments (Hamlet 4.5.166), King Lear (4.4.101), and the Two Noble Kinsmen (; see also Merry Report’s words in Heywood’s Play of the Weather—“Gyue boys wether quoth a nonny nonny” (l. 1043)—and the Boy’s response, “If god of his wether wyll gyue nonny / I pray you wyll he sell ony” (l. 1045–46), and others.[1]

5 may Maid.
11 trespas Transgression, offence, wrong, or fault—on her part (OED “trespass” n 1).
14 hace Has.
19 rew Affect with regret (for some act), make (one) wish one had acted otherwise, or affect with pity or compassion (OED v.1 2,4).
21 brest Burst.
24 sew Cf. similar action associated with love in Henry’s lyrics; see the note to “Thow that men do call it dotage” (H 44.17).
32 god Good.
35 ryght mete Right suitable companion, mate.
38 yes replete Eyes full [of tears].
41 labell “La belle,” a term of endearment, though here oddly not in the masculine.
47 at abrayde Suddenly, unaware, as if awakened (OED “bray / at a bray”).
52 hent Seized, grasped, took, or held (OED v 1).
53 gent Genteel; also graceful, elegant, pretty (OED a 2).
54 uoydyng Avoiding.
55 wyldernes The countryside.

The unattibuted burden is through-set in three voices, with the remaining text underlaid. For its relationship with Henry VIII’s “Alac alac what shall I do” (H 25), see the notes to that lyric. 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 “Grene growith the holy” (H 27), “Blow thi hornne hunter” (H 29), “Whilles lyue or breth is in my brest” (H 43), and “Yow and I and amyas” (H 35).

“Hey nony nony nony no” is indexed in Robbins Index & Suppl. 3635.5 and Ringler MS TM1666. It is reprinted in Flügel Anglia 236–37, Flügel Neuengl 135, Chambers Lyrics 59–61, Padelford xxxix, Stevens M&P 397–98, and Stevens MCH8 27.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. It is in a stage direction for the character of Insatiato in the anonymous Two Wise Men and All the Rest Fooles: “He daunceth toward her and singeth / … Hey niny, nony no. Hey niny no. Hey noniny nonino, Hey ninyno” (87); Fletcher’s Humorous Lieutenant, wherein Leontius exclaims “For a hay‑nonny‑nonny? would I had a glasse here” (l. 210); the anonymous medieval “The George Aloe and the Sweepstakes too” (Bodleian Rawlinson 566 f. 183r; repr. Child, ed. 9.134): “With hey, with ho, for and a nony no” (ll. 2, 51); F. Pilkington’s “Beauty sat bathing by a spring” (Palgrave, ed. 1.XX): “Hey nony, hey nony, hey hey nony no nony nony” (ll. 9, 19); Thomas Dekker’s “The Happy Heart” (Palgrave, ed. 1.LXXV): “Then hey nonny nonny, hey nonny nonny!” (ll. 9, 20); the ultimate line of Peerson’s “Sing loue is blinde” (Private Musicke XVIII): “With a hey nony, nony, with a hey nony, nony, with a hey nony, nony, nony, nony, nony no, hey nony, nony no”; Ravenscroft’s “The hunt is vp” (Briefe Discourse #1): “Hey nony nony nony no” (l. 5; see also ll. 11 & 19); his “Of Enamoring” (Briefe Discourse #15): “hey no no ny no ny no” (l. 6; see also ll. 8, 14, & 16); and his “The Flye she sat in Shamble row” (Deuteromelia): “for and hey nonny no in an old Iue tree” (l. 22; see also l. 24); and others.