While he was in England Gounod continued to compose songs to French texts, some of which were published simultaneously in both the original language and English translation. A lay of the early spring
was originally Chanson d’avril
with a text by François Coppée (1842– 1908). The poem was taken from Le Passant
, a play staged in 1869 in Paris starring Sarah Bernhardt. A poet named Horace Smith provided the English words, and it is rather unlikely that the English publisher was aware that the song had a double life as a mélodie.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1993