Shakespeare Songs

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Shakespeare's plays (even his tragedies) are filled with songs for which musicians have written countless melodies over the centuries. Having so enjoyed writing the first songs I was commissioned to write for Free Shakespeare in the Park, I decided that I wanted to write melodies to all of Shakespeares songs. I haven't quite met that goal yet but here are twelve of the songs I have written so far.  

 

Note: The quality of the recordings of these songs is intentionally quite unsophisticated, for my intent is simply to share the songs so they can be sung by others rather than spend hours of studio time trying to get the "perfect" recording.    

 

Who is Silvia?  

(Two Gentlemen of Verona) 

 

Who is Silvia? What is she, 

That all our swains commend her?

Holy, fair and wise is she;

The heaven such grace did lend her.

Holy, fair and wise is she;

That she might admired be.

Holy, fair and wise is she;

That she might admired be.

 

Is she kind as she is fair? 

For beauty lives with kindness.

Love doth to her eyes repair,

To help him of his blindness.

Love doth to her eyes repair,

And, being help'd inhabits there. 

Love doth to her eyes repair,

And, being help'd inhabits there. 

 

Then to Silvia let us sing,

That Silvia is excelling;

She excels each mortal thing,

Upon he dull earth dwelling. 

She excels each mortal thing,

To her let us garlands bring.

She excels each mortal thing,

To her let us garlands bring. 

 

Repeat first verse.

 

Spring 

(Love's Labor Lost) 

 

When daisies pied and violets blue

    And Lady-smocks all silver white

And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue 

     Do paint the meadows with delight, 

The cuckoo then, on every tree, 

Mocks married men; for thus sings he,  

      Cuckoo;

Cuckoo, cuckoo: O word of fear. 

Cuckoo, cuckoo: Unpleasing to a married ear!

 

When shepherd pipe on oaten straws, 

    And merry larks are ploughmen's clocks,

When turtles tread, and rooks and daws, 

   And maidens bleach their summer smocks, 

The cuckoo then, on every tree, 

Mocks married men; for thus sings he,  

      Cuckoo;

Cuckoo, cuckoo: O word of fear. 

Cuckoo, cuckoo: Unpleasing to a married ear!

 

Winter

(Love's Labour Lost) 

 

When icicles hang by the wall, 

   And Kick the shepherd blows his nail, 

And Tom bears logs into the hall, 

   And milk comes frozen home in pail, 

When blood is nipp'd and ways be foul, 

Then nightly sings the staring owl, 

    Tu-whit;

Tu-who, a merry note 

While greasy Joan doth keel the pot. 

Tu- whit, Tu-who, a merry note. 

Tu-whit, Tu-whit, Tu-who. 

 

When all aloud the wind doth blow, 

   And coughing drowns the parson't sow, 

And birds sit brooding in the snow, 

   And Marian's nose looks red and raw. 

When roated crabs hiss in the bowl, 

Then nightly sings the staring owl, 

    Tu-whit;

Tu-who, a merry note 

While greasy Joan doth keel the pot. 

Tu- whit, Tu-who, a merry note. 

Tu-whit, Tu-whit, Tu-who. 

 

Tell Me Where is Fancy Bred

(Merchant of Venice) 

 

Tell me where is fancy bred, 

Or in the heart or in the head? 

How begot, how nourished? 

Reply, reply

Tell me where is fancy bred.

 

It is engender'd in the eyes, 

With gazing fed; and fancy dies 

In the cradle where it lies. 

   Let us all sing fancy's knell;

   I'll begin it, - Ding, dong, bell. 

 

Ding, dong, bell. 

 

Titania's Lullaby 

(A Midsummer Night's Dream) 

 

You spotted owl with double tongue, 

  Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen; 

Newts and blind-worms, do no wrong, 

   Come not near our fairy queen. 

 

Philomel, with melody

   Sing in our sweet lullaby; 

Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby

   Never harm, 

   Nor spell, nor charm 

Come our lovely lady nigh;

So good night, with lullaby 

Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby. 

 

Weaving spiders, come not her;

   Hence, you long-legg'd spinners, hence!

Beetles black, approach not near;

   Worm nor snail, do no offence. 

 

Philomel, with melody

   Sing in our sweet lullaby; 

Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby

   Never harm, 

   Nor spell, nor charm 

Come our lovely lady nigh;

So good night, with lullaby 

Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby. 

 

Sigh No More

(Much Ado About Nothing) 

 

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more, 

   Men were deceivers eer, 

One foot in sea and one on shore, 

   To one thing constant never; 

 

Then sigh not so, but let them go, 

  And be you blithe and bonny 

Converting all your sounds of woe 

   Into hey nonny nonny

 

Repeat chorus

 

Sing no more ditties, sing no more

   Of dumps so dull and heavy; 

The fraud of men was ever so 

   Since summer first was leavy; 

 

Chorus

Repeat chorus

 

 

Blow Blow Thou Winter Wind

(As You Like It) 

 

Blow, blow thou winter wind,

Thou art not so unkind

As man's ingratitude

Thy tooth is not so keen, 

Because thou art not seen,

Although thy breath be rude.

 

Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly

Most friendship is feigning,

Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly

Most loving mere folly:

 

Then hey-ho, the holly!

This life is most jolly. 

Then hey-ho, the holly!

This life is most jolly.  

 

Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky

That dost not bit so nigh

As benefits forgot

Though thou the waters warp

Thy sting is not so sharp

As friend remember'd not. 

 

Heigh-ho!...

 

Under The Greenwood Tree

(As You Like It) 

 

Under the greenwood tree

Who loves to lie with me

And turn each merry note

Unto the sweet bird's throat

 

Come hither, come hither, come hither, come hither

Here shall he see, no enemy

But winter and rough weather

 

Who doth ambition shun 

And loves to live in the Sunday

Seeking the food he eats

And pleased with what he gets

 

Come hither...

 

Come Away Death

(Twelfth Night) 

 

Come away, come away death, 

And in sad cyprus let me be laid. 

Fly away, fly away breath. 

I am slain by a fair cruel maid. 

 

My shroud of white stuck all with yew, 

O prepare it. 

My part of death, no one so true

Did share it. 

 

Not a flow'r, not a flow'r sweet 

On my black cofficn let there be strown. 

Not a friend, not a friend greet 

My poor corpse

Where my bones shall be thrown. 

 

A thousand sighs 

A thousand sighs to save, 

O where lay me. 

Sad lover true never find my grave 

To weep there. 

 

Come away....

 

The Wind and the Rain 

(Twelfth Night) 

 

When that I was and a tiny little boy

With a hey, ho, the wind and the rain

A foolish thing was but a toy

For the rain it raineth every day.

 

With a hey, ho, the wind and the rain. 

It raineth, raineth ev'ry day. 

With a hey, ho, the wind and the rain, 

For the rain it raineth every day. 

 

But when I came to man's estate 

With a...

'Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gate

For the...

 

Chorus

 

But wehn I came alas to wive

With a...

With swag'ring I could never thrive

For the..

 

Chorus

 

But when I came unto my beds

With a...

With tosspots still had drunken heads

For the....

 

Chorus

 

A great while go the world begun 

With a...

But that's all one our play is done

And we''l strive to please you every day. 

 

Chorus

 

Tomorrow is Saint Valentine's Day

(Romeo and Juliet) 

 

Tomorrow is Saint Valentine's Day

All in the morning betime

And I a maid at your window

to be your valentine

The up he rose and don'd his clothes

And dupp'd the chamber door

Let in the maid that out a maid 

Never departed more. 

 

They Bore Him Barefaced on the Bier

(Romeo and Juliet) 

 

They bore him bare-faced on the bier

Hey non nonny, nonny hey nonny

And is his grave rain'd many a tear

Fare you well my dove. 

 

And Will He Not Come Again? 

(Romeo and Juliet) 

 

And will he not come again? 

And will he not come again? 

No, no he is dead

Go to thy death bed 

He never will come again 

 

His head was as white as snow

All flaxen was his poll 

He is gone, he is gone

And we cast away moan

God h' mercy on his soul 

 

And all Christian souls I pray

I pray God, God be wi' ye.