“Greensleeves” is a traditional English folk tune dating to the late 16th century (and possibly earlier), named for its association with various ballads of “ye Ladye Greene Sleves,” who spurns the love of an eager suitor. The melody, which became a popular accompaniment to numerous songs on different topics, emerged during the long period in which the modal system of musical composition was giving way to the tonal (major-minor) system, and it contains elements of both.
In 1865, the English writer William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898) composed a nativity poem, “The Manger Throne,” from which the stanzas comprising the carol “What Child is This?” were taken. Paired with the tune “Greensleeves,” it has become one of the best-loved Christmas carols.
Here’s a performance by the Hungarian ensemble, the Daniel Speer brass.
Score, parts (Bb tpt. 1, Bb tpt. 2, F horn, tbn, tuba) — $12.99