A Sprightly Dance
This week, the Literary Corner goes musical. Here's a page from the 1709 edition of John Playford's The Dancing Master, a song-and-dance manual that ran into multiple editions in the 17th and 18th centuries. You will look in vain for instructions on the Charleston or Boogaloo, but you can find out how to dance the Roger de Coverley, and the tune and dance for Henry VIII's 'Green Sleeves and Pudding Pies' in in there. Also 'Lillibulero'. Pretty cool.
I had trouble finding this tune for a couple of reasons. For one thing, all my sources insisted that it was called 'Royal Oak'. I clicked through every single page of the book three times (OCR search doesn't work in the 18th Century) before I found out it was also called 'the 29th of May'. It would have been a snap if I'd known my history better: the 29th of May was the day of the Restoration of Charles II (of blessed memory).
The musicologists insist that this tune is also used for 'All Things Bright and Beautiful'. I can sort of hear it if I squint my ears. I must be too easily distracted by rhythm and ornamentation. Here's the version I started with: a modern arrangement by Michael Helman, called 'Rondeau on "Royal Oak"'. Warning: cute bunny alert.
It's nice to know that old tunes never die.