Greensleeves - Chords, Lyrics and Origins

Origins

Mentioned in more than one Shakespeare play, Greensleeves is a traditional English folk song that probably dates from the late sixteenth century.  A quick glance at the lyrics, in which a man vainly  and somewhat obsessively courts an unobtainable woman, explains why people have assumed that it was written by Henry VIII, about his ultimately successful, but nevertheless long-drawn out and rather tortuous courtship of Ann Boleyn.  However, there is no evidence for this.  What's for sure is that courtly love in all its unobtainability (if that's a word) was a major theme of much Renaissance poetry.  And that's probably the tradition that this set of lyrics draws from.

Chords

Capo at 2nd Fret


Verse

Em          G              D         Bm

Alas, my love, you do me wrong,

      C                      B
To cast me off discourteously.

Em             G        D          Bm
For I have loved you so long,

     C            B7         Em
Delighting in your company.




Chorus

G                             D        Bm

Greensleeves was all my joy

Am                             B
Greensleeves was my delight,

G                                   D             Bm
Greensleeves was my heart of gold,

        C                    B7   Em
And who but my lady greensleeves?

Lyrics

Alas, my love, you do me wrong,
To cast me off discourteously.
For I have loved you so long,
Delighting in your company.

Greensleeves was all my joy
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves was my heart of gold,
And who but my lady greensleeves?

Your vows you've broken, like my heart,
Oh, why did you so enrapture me?
Now I remain in a world apart,
But my heart remains in captivity.

Greensleeves was all my joy
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves was my heart of gold,
And who but my lady greensleeves?

I have been ready at your hand,
To grant whatever you would crave;
I have both wagered life and land,
Your love and good-will for to have.

Greensleeves was all my joy
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves was my heart of gold,
And who but my lady greensleeves?

If you intend thus to disdain,
It does the more enrapture me,
And even so, I still remain
A lover in captivity.

Greensleeves was all my joy
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves was my heart of gold,
And who but my lady greensleeves?

My men were clothed all in green,
And they did ever wait on thee;
All this was gallant to be seen,
And yet thou wouldst not love me.

Greensleeves was all my joy
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves was my heart of gold,
And who but my lady greensleeves?

Thou couldst desire no earthly thing,
but still thou hadst it readily.
Thy music still to play and sing;
And yet thou wouldst not love me.

Greensleeves was all my joy
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves was my heart of gold,
And who but my lady greensleeves?

Well, I will pray to God on high,
that thou my constancy mayst see,
And that yet once before I die,
Thou wilt vouchsafe to love me.

Greensleeves was all my joy
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves was my heart of gold,
And who but my lady greensleeves?

Ah, Greensleeves, now farewell, adieu,
To God I pray to prosper thee,
For I am still thy lover true,
Come once again and love me.

Greensleeves was all my joy
Greensleeves was my delight,
Greensleeves was my heart of gold,
And who but my lady greensleeves?

Other English Folk Songs
Other Traditional Folk Songs