> Jon Boden > Songs > It Was a Lover and His Lass

It Was a Lover and His Lass

[words William Shakespeare]

It Was a Lover and His Lass is a song that the second page sang in Act 5, Scene 3 of William Shakespeare's play As You Like It. Jon Boden sang it with an extended first line as There Once Was a Lover and He Loved a Lass to his one tune as the April 3, 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day. He commented:

I've written a lot of scores for professional plays, but I think my favourite theatre experience is still writing music for As You Like It as a university production (Castle Theatre Company) which toured for two weeks around various beautiful country houses in the south of England. The cast sang and played all the music and I loved every minute of it. Somehow professional theatre has never quite matched up to it. This is one of the better known songs from As You Like It, but with a folkier tune than the standard one.

The Company of Players sang It Was a Lover and His Lass on their 2018 CD Shakespeare Songs.

Lyrics

It Was a Lover and His Lass

It was a lover and his lass,
    With a hey and a ho and a hey nonino,
That o’er the green corn-field did pass,
    In spring-time, the only pretty ring-time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding,
Sweet lovers love the spring.

Between the acres of the rye,
    With a hey and a ho and a hey nonino,
These pretty country-folks would lie,
    In spring-time, the only pretty ring-time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding,
Sweet lovers love the spring.

This carol they began that hour,
    With a hey and a ho and a hey nonino,
How that a life was but a flower,
    In spring-time, the only pretty ring-time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding,
Sweet lovers love the spring.

And therefore take the present time,
    With a hey and a ho and a hey nonino,
For love is crowned with the prime
    In spring-time, the only pretty ring-time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding,
Sweet lovers love the spring.