Oh, For a Bowl of Fat Canary


Oh, For a Bowl of Fat Canary - (2012)    

John Lyly

for baritone and piano


Oh, for a bowl of fat Canary,
Rich Palermo, sparkling Sherry,
Some nectar else, from Juno's dairy;
Oh, these draughts would make us merry!

Oh, for a wench (I deal in faces,
And in other daintier things);
Tickled am I with her embraces,
Fine dancing in such fairy rings.

Oh, for a plump fat leg of mutton,
Veal, lamb, capon, pig, and coney;
None is happy but a glutton,
None an ass but who want money.

Wines indeed and girls are good,
But brave victuals feast the blood;
For wenches, wine, and lusty cheer,
Jove would leap down to surfeit here.

3 pages, circa 2' 00"

John Lyly


John Lyly (1554-1606) was an English writer, poet, dramatist, playwright, and politician, known for his books Euphues, The Anatomy of Wit (1578) and Euphues and His England (1580). Lyly's literary style, originating in his first books, was termed as "Euphuism," and his tales speak in polite comedy of disappointed love and lovers. It is said that at Oxford (B.A., 1573, M. A., 1575) he was "more distinguished for wit than for scholarship." Good for him I say. Canary was a type of sack from the Canary Islands, sack being a fortified wine.


The setting alternates between secco and sustained textures in the accompaniment as the text is declaimed in a robust and jolly manner -- please. The five and six note diatonic clusters mark modernity without chromaticism. The first two strophes repeat with a lightly alternating setting for the third strophe and simple repeat for the last. 



The score is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.


Oh, For a Bowl of Fat Canary