A traditional English song, there is no consensus on who composed "Greensleeves." It has been attributed to Henry VIII, the much married King of England, with speculation that the words were inspired by Katherine of Aragon or Anne Boleyn.
The first mention of the song in recorded history dates only from 1580, some 33 years after Henry's death.
As with many folk songs, the melody is far superior to the words. It is known variously as "My Ladye Greensleeves" or "Ladye Greensleeves" but usually as just "Greensleeves."
The song has been recorded numerous times over the years including by jazz artists, but perhaps most memorably (with the lyrics suitably amended) in an advertisement for Dreamland Electric Blankets.
Alexander Baron - London, England, for all above
This is a plea from a man to his bored mistress. He is still enraptured by her but she appears not to love him anymore.
William Shakespeare mentions this song by name twice in The Merry Wives of Windsor.
In Act Two: "I would have sworn his disposition would have gone to the truth of his words; but they do no more adhere and keep place together than the Hundredth Psalm to the tune of 'Green Sleeves.'"
And in Act Five: "Let the sky rain potatoes; let it thunder to the tune of 'Green Sleeves.'"
In a letter held at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum dated May 18, 1962, it is noted that "His favorite song is 'Green Sleeves' an old English composition."
In The Office episode "Take Your Daughter To Work Day" (2006), Dwight plays this on the recorder for a group of bored kids. He tells them the tune is "a traditional English ballad about the beheaded Anne Boleyn."
The instrumental was used in last few seasons of the Lassie TV show (1954-1974) as its theme song.