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Here’s a musical gem …

April is in My Mistress’ Face, by Thomas Morley, published in 1594.

Thomas Morley, 1557/58–1602

A short piece (1:30), brilliantly sung by the Cambridge Singers – please follow the lyrics on the top line … and wait for the cold dagger at the end [edit: youtube video down – ouch! – replaced with another version from … Russia, which does the basics well, although a bit nervous (with extra charm on the bosom)]:

Lyrics while you listen:

April is in my mistress’ face,
And July in her eyes hath place;
Within her bosom is September,
But in her heart a cold December.

It seems this is based on an Italian text of 1587, but I can’t source that. There is disagreement on the pronunciation of July: some say Julie (as in Julius Caesar, I suppose), which was the contemporary style, but the best versions stick with the modern July.

Judging by youtube, many American high school choirs make spirited attempts at this difficult piece – including a hip-hop parody. But there’s also a slow, satisfying version from Russia (again). And English rolling-r’s pronunciation, which is truly contemporary but sounding so odd.

ps. 2014 – You must: the amazing Cambridge Singers version on Grooveshark. I wonder if the song’s humour has been drained by too few male voices.

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