It was a Lover and his Lass is a little ditty, written by William Shakespeare (1564-1616) and featured in As You Like It, Act V, scene 3 (performed for Touchstone, in the play, by one of the pages).

The lyric is (deliberately) almost painfully trivial, and infested with some of the most awful rhymes in the history of poetry - this little banality shows off the playful side of the Bard of Avon.


It was a Lover and his Lass
by William Shakespeare

IT was a lover and his lass,
  With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
That o'er the green corn-field did pass,
  In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

Between the acres of the rye,
  With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
These pretty country folks would lie,
  In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

This carol they began that hour,
  With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
How that life was but a flower,
  In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

And, therefore, take the present time
  With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
For love is crownèd with the prime
In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.


It was a Lover and his Lass has been set to music by a number of different people, including:

- Thomas Morley (1557-1603), "It was a lover and his lass".
- Gerard Barton (1861-??), "It was a lover and his lass", pub. 1803.
- Dudley Buck (1839-1909), "Spring Song", op. 76 no. 2.
- Sir Hubert Parry (1848-1918), "A Spring Song".
- Peter Warlock (Philip Arnold Heseltine) (1894-1930), "Pretty ring time" (1925).
- Roger Quilter (1877-1953), "It was a lover and his lass", op. 23 no. 3.
- Gerald Finzi (1901-1956), "It was a lover and his lass", op. 18, from Let Us Garlands Bring, no. 5 (1940).
- Erich Korngold (1897-1957), "When birds do sing", op. 31, from Four Shakespeare Songs, no. 4.
- Madeleine Dring (1923-1977), "It was a lover and his lass".

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