May Day Ballette

Now is the Month of Maying

Now is the month of maying is one of the most famous of the English balletts, by Thomas Morley published in 1595. It is based on the canzonet So ben mi ch'a bon tempo used by Orazio Vecchi in his 1590 Selva di varia ricreatione.[1]

The song delights in bawdy double-entendre. It is apparently about spring dancing, but this is a metaphor for sex. For example, a "barley-break" would have suggested outdoor sexual activity (rather like we might say a "roll in the hay"). The use of such imagery and puns increased during the Renaissance.[2]

The madrigal forms a key part of Oxford's May Morning celebrations, where the choir of Magdalen College sing the verses from the roof of the college's Great Tower.

Headington Quarry Morris Dancers will sing this on May morining in Jericho, (See Engagements - 1st MAy).

Now is the month of maying,

When merry lads are playing,

Fa la la la la la la la la,

Fa la la la la la lah.

Each with his bonny lass

A-dancing on the grass.

Fa la la, etc...

The Spring, clad all in gladness,

Doth laugh at Winter's sadness,

Fa la la, etc...

And to the bagpipe's sound

The nymphs tread on the ground.

Fa la la, etc...

Fie then! why sit we musing,

Youth's sweet delight refusing?

Fa la la, etc...

Say, dainty nymphs, and speak,

Shall we play barley-break?

Fa la la etc...

(Source - Wikipedia)