The Queen of May (Samuel Howard)

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  • (Posted 2022-05-15)  CPDL #69242:  Network.png
Editor: Christopher Shaw (submitted 2022-05-15).   Score information: A4, 7 pages, 923 kB   Copyright: CC BY SA
Edition notes: Please click on the link for preview/playback/PDF download. This edition is available with the full string accompaniment, or with a keyboard reduction of the string parts.

General Information

Title: The Queen of May
Composer: Samuel Howard
Lyricist: Anonymous
Number of voices: 1v   Voicing: Solo high
Genre: SecularArt song

Language: English
Instruments: Basso continuo, strings accompaniment

First published: 1754
Description: Sung at Ranelagh pleasure gardens. The song celebrates a centuries-old folk custom, the election of a Queen of the May. This should in no way be confused with vulgarian strummer [Brian] May of Queen.

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

Ev'ry nymph and shepherd bring
Tributes to the Queen of May;
Rifle for her brows the spring;
Make her as the season gay.
Teach her then from ev'ry flow'r
How to use the fleeting hour.

Now the fair Narcissus blows,
With his sweetness now delights;
By his side the maiden rose
With her artless blush invites;
Such, so fragrant and so gay,
Is the blooming Queen of May.

Soon the fair Narcissus dies,
Soon he droops his languid head;
From the rose her purple flies,
None inviting to her bed:
Such, tho' now so sweet and gay,
Soon shall be the Queen of May.

Tho' thou art a rural queen,
By the suffrage of the swains,
Beauty, like the vernal green,
In thy shrine not long remains:
Bless, then quickly bless the youth,
Who deserves thy love and truth.