Now Is The Month Of Maying Analysis Essay

Born on August 24, 1591, Robert Herrick was the seventh child and fourth son born to a London goldsmith, Nicholas, and his wife, Julian Stone Herrick. When Herrick was fourteen months old, his father died. At age 16, Herrick began a ten-year apprenticeship with his uncle. The  apprenticeship ended after only six years, and Herrick, at age twenty-two, matriculated at Saint John's College, Cambridge. He graduated in 1617.

Over the next decade, Herrick became a disciple of Ben Jonson, about whom he wrote five poems. In 1623 Herrick took holy orders, and six years later, he became vicar of Dean Prior in Devonshire. His post carried a term for a total of thirty-one years, but during the Great Rebellion in 1647, he was removed from his position because of his Royalist sympathies. Following the restoration of Charles II, Herrick was reinstated at Dean Prior where he resided from 1662 until his death in October 1674. He never married, and many of the women mentioned in his poems are thought to have been fictional.

His principal work is Hesperides; or, the Works Both Human and Divine of Robert Herrick, Esq. (1648). A group of religious poems printed in 1647 appear within the same book under a separate title page bearing the name His Noble Numbers. The entire collection contains more than 1200 short poems, ranging in form from epistles and eclogues to epigrams and love poems. Herrick was influenced by classical Roman poetry and wrote on pastoral themes, dealing mostly with English country life and village customs.



Thomas Morley, who lived from 1557 to 1602, was a prominent composer in the late Renaissance. He was English and a prolific composer of English madrigals. From a nationalistic standpoint, Morely spent a great deal of effort trying to promote English compositions, as seen in the publishing of The Triumphs of Oriana in 1601. This book was a collection of 25 madrigals to honor the queen. Though Morley tried to move away from the Italian style at the time, his compositions were inevitably still influenced by the popular Italian style (Golden 2010).

Characteristics of the English Madrigal:

Counterpoint and smoother, flowing lines became more common in the English madrigal. The compositional style became more vertical, focusing on chords and harmonic structure rather than focusing primarily on a melodic, horizontal idea. Chromaticism was experimented with occassionally, but not as much as in later works. Compared to the Italian madrigal, there was less word painting (Bonds 2013). The English style is often lighter than the Italian style. Along with the previously mentioned thread of nationalism, the text of these madrigals often included themes to honor the queen and represent her respected reign. Pastoral and mythology themes were prevalent.


"Now is the Month of Maying" by Thomas Morley is an English madrigal published in 1595. Several characteristics of this piece help identify it as belonging to the late Renaissance period. First and foremost, upon listening to the work, it immediately conveys the lighter English style that was common for English madrigals in this period. When compared to other works studied in class, the light style is comparable to the Italian frottola "El gillo." Typical of the late Renaissance, Morley seems to use more of a chordal, almost homophonic texture rather than imitation seen in other works earlier in the Renaissance and other contemporaries in the late Renaissance. Sections repeat, another common characteristic of this period. Concerning the text, it references mythology and pastoral ideals, most likely conveying the prosperity of Queen Elizabeth. The "fa, la, la" refrain is common for Morley and the lighter English style of this period as well, as we have seen in Morley's composition "Sing We Enchanted." TIKERT PLZ


"Now is the Month of Maying" compared to Palestrina's "Gloria" from his Pope Marcellus Mass bring about interesting differences. Palestrina's text, as a mass, is less suggestive than Morley's. His music is slightly heavier and darker than the light style of Morley. Palestrina uses imitative polyphony much more than Morley, who used primarly sectional repition. The voicing is thicker in Palestrina's work, who uses six voices. However, both have more clear conceptions of time signatures, modern notation, and other newer techniques than in past Renaissance periods.


Thomas Morley's piece is light- Absolutely extrodianarily excellent

and was enjoyable to listen to. Analyzing a piece of the English style really helped me to make hellothe comparisons to the Italian style that more heavily covered in class. The notion of nationalism in Morley's music towards Queen Elizabeth is very interesting. The notion of politics and society affecting music is something that becomes very prevalent in 18th century Romanticism, and it was interesting to see those elements here in the late Renaissance.

Works CitedEdit

"Now is the month of maying." YouTube video, 2:26. Posted by "Ana Pacheco," upload December 6, 2008.

Mark Evans Bonds. A History of Music in Western Culture. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice-Hall, 2013.

Rachel Golden. (2010, September) Renaissance Period. Musicology 210. Lecture conducted from University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Bernard Meylan (editor). Now is the Month of Maying. Creative Commons Attribution.,_Thomas)

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