The madrigal ‘This Sweet and Merry Month of May’ is in a set of pieces published by Byrd in 1611 entitled ‘Psalms, Songs, and Sonnets: some solemne, others joyfull’. But as Edmund Fellowes observes in his book ‘The English Madrigal Composers’ (1948): “The inclusion in this volume of the four part setting … suggests that by no means all of these pieces had been newly composed at the date of publication; this particular madrigal had already been printed with Watson’s ‘First sett of Italian Madrigalls Englished’ as early as 1590”.
This demonstrates the importance of this work in Byrd’s complete output.
The Stondon Singers will be performing this piece on Saturday 7 May (4.00 & 7.30pm) in a programme entitled ‘William Byrd: His Essex Years’. It is also the chosen piece by BBC Essex today heralding the William Byrd Festival.