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Christmas with the Baltimore Consort

The Old Year Now Away is Fled

A Carol for New Year's Day, to the tune of Green Sleeves
soprano, lute treble viol, Renaissance flute, cittern, bass viol

RealAudio 2.0, 14.4
RealAudio 2.0, 28.8

Text: Good and True, Fresh and New, Christmas Carols (London, 1642). Tunes: William Ballet's MS Lute Book, Trinity College, Dublin (triple meter). Matthew Holmes MS partbooks, Cambridge U. Library (duple meter).

"There is scarcely a collection of old English songs in which at least one may not be found to the tune of Green Sleeves" (William Chappell). Known today primarily through the 19th-century carol "What child is this", Green Sleeve's long and venerable history stretches back to the 16th century, at which time the two halves of the melody were linked with the standard Italian bass patterns PassamezzoAntico and Romanesca. The tune as we know it now is in triple meter, but historically aduple version existed as well. The present arrangement makes use of both. Shifting gears from triple to duple meter helps express the transition of mood in the text. As the 'jolly good cheer' increases with the flow of liquor, we add diminutions draw from a 16th- century variation set on Green Sleeves from a 'broken consort' lute part in the Cambridge University Library.

The old year now away is fled,
The new year it is entered;
Then let us all our sins down tread,
And joyfully all appear.
Let's merry be this holiday,
And let us run with sport and play,
Hang sorrow, cast care away:
God send us a merry new year!

And now let all the company
In friendly manner all agree,
For we are here welcome all may see
Unto this jolly good cheer.
I thank my master and my dame,
The which are founders of the same,
To eat and drink now is no shame:
God send you a happy new year!

For Christ's circumcision this day we keep,
Who for our sins did often weep;
His hands and feet were wounded deep,
And his blessed side with a spear;
His head they crownËd with a thorn,
And at him they did laugh and scorn,
Who for to save our soules was born.
God send us a merry new year!

Come lads and lasses every one,
Jack, Tom, Dick, Bess, Mary, and Joan,
Let's cut the meat unto the bone,
For welcome you need not fear.
And here for good liquor you shall not lack,
It will not whet my brains and strengthen my back,
This jolly good cheer it must go to wrack:
God send us a happy new year!

And now with new year's gifts each friend
Unto each other they do send;
God grant we may our lives amend,
And that truth may now appear.
Now like the snake cast off your skin
Of evil thoughts and wicked sin,
And to amend this new year begin:
God send us merry new year!

Come give us more liquor when I do call,
I'll drink to each one in this hall,
I hope that loud I must not bawl,
So unto me lend an ear.
Good fortune to my master send,
And to our dame which is our friend,
God bless us all, and so I end:
God send us happy new year!

Program notes by Mary Anne Ballard