The Lyrics of Henry VIII

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Introduction[1][edit]

When we think of exemplary models illustrative of the nature of courtly literature and culture in Renaissance England, the early court of Henry VIII is not always the first to come to mind. By sheer force of voluminous scholarship alone, one might be more drawn to that of his daughter Elizabeth I and, once there, persuaded to consider those who assisted in the process of shaping the literary life of her court in a model suited to its monarch, and literary representations of that monarch in terms suitable to the court. Of this, there are many illustrations, among them the Cynthia of Edmund Spenser’s Colin Clout; the Britomart, Glorianna, and Belphoebe of The Faerie Queene; Sir Philip Sidney’s judicious judge at the centre of his Lady of May; and the figure—constructed and interpreted by Spenser, Mary Sidney, William Shakespeare, George Peele, John Davies, and others—of Astrea.[2] What emerges from consideration in such a vein is the nature of the social fiction that is constructed and elaborated in literary terms by these literati and, when viewed in the larger context of court activity, the way in which literary constructions are reflected in (and, themselves, reflect) themes and trends in the larger fabric of court life.

Such processes are similarly at work in the earlier Tudor court,[3] especially that of Elizabeth’s father Henry in the first years of his reign, but there are far fewer literary figures of such prominence to recount—unless, of course, one is willing to consider the king directly among those literary figures who participated in the construction of courtly social fictions. The Henry VIII Manuscript (BL Additional MS 31,922; hereafter referred to as H), one of only three large songbooks surviving from the period, is notable for many reasons, but chief among them is its intimate connection with Henry’s early court and, within, its exemplification of the social fictions developed and elaborated by Henry and his early contemporaries, specifically that of courtly love and the elements of spectacle and regal power that Henry brought to it.[4] It provides a rare witness to the fictions the early Tudor court literati constructed and upheld, and the even rarer opportunity of examining the light, earlier lyrical works of a figure better known for his later reforms, secular and religious alike. In allowing one to view the court, and its monarch, through the short poetical works which graced them, the lyrics of the Henry VIII MS are themselves exemplary of the literary accoutrement—the apparel or attire intended for special purposes[5]—of the early Tudor court and of the king himself.

Hitherto unedited in a form intended for a literary audience, the lyrics of the Henry VIII MS thus constitute a document that contributes considerably to our critical understanding of the connections between music, poetry and power in early Renaissance society—because of the prominence of its chief author and composer, the King himself, and also because of its literary reflection of the social and political elements of the early Tudor court. The lyrics themselves will appear soon in an edition published by the Renaissance English Text Society, but the matter of the text itself and its relation to the larger context of the literary and musicological study of this manuscript will not be addressed at length in that edition; this note attempts to provide that material, bringing forward aspects of our understanding of the text of the manuscript from the previous generation of scholars to the current one, toward a greater understanding of the social, cultural, literary and musicological understanding of the text of H.

Table of Contents[edit]

The Lyrics[edit]

List of Lyrics
Lyric Folio
Benedictus [Isaac] (Incipit) 3v-4r
Fortune esperee [Busnois] (Incipit) 4v-5r
Alles regretz uuidez dema presece [van Ghizeghem / Jean III of Bourbon] (Incipit) 5v-6r
En frolyk weson [Barbireau] (Incipit) 6v-7r
Pastyme with good companye, Henry VIII 14v-15r
Adew mes amours et mon desyre, Cornish 15v-17r
Adew madam et ma mastress, Henry VIII 17v-18r
HElas madam cel que ie metant, Henry VIII 18v-19r
Alas what shall I do for love, Henry VIII 20v-21r
Hey nowe nowe, Kempe (Incipit) 21v
Alone I leffe alone, Cooper 22r
O my hart and o my hart, Henry VIII 22v-23r
Adew adew my hartis lust, Cornish 23v-24r
Aboffe all thynge, Farthing 24v
Downbery down, Daggere 25r
Hey now now, Farthing 25v
In may that lusty sesoun, Farthing 26r
Whoso that wyll hym selff applye, Rysby 27v-28r
The tyme of youthe is to be spent, Henry VIII 28v-29r
The thowghtes within my brest, Farthing 29v-30r
My loue sche morneth for me, Cornish 30v-31r
A the syghes that cum fro my hart, Cornish 32v-33r
With sorowfull syghs and greuos payne, Farthing 33v-34r
If I had wytt for to endyght [Unattributed] 34v-35r
Alac alac what shall I do, Henry VIII 35v
Hey nony nony nony nony no [Unattributed] (Incipit) 36r
Grene growith the holy, Henry VIII 37v-38r
Whoso that wyll all feattes optayne, Henry VIII 38v-39r
Blow thi hornne hunter, Cornish 39v-40r
De tous bien plane [van Ghizegehem] (Incipit) 40v-41r
Iay pryse amours [Unattributed] (Incipit) 41v-42r
Adew corage adew, Cornish 42v
Trolly lolly loly lo, Cornish 43v-44r
I love trewly withowt feynyng, Farthing 44v-45r
Yow and I and amyas, Cornish 45v-46r
Ough warder mount [Unattributed] (Incipit) 46v-47r
La season [Compère / Agricola] (Incipit) 47v-48r
If love now reynyd as it hath bene, Henry VIII 48v-49r
Gentyl prince de renom, Henry VIII (Incipit) 49v-50r
Sy fortune mace bien purchase [Unattributed] 50v-51r
Wherto shuld I expresse, Henry VIII 51v-52r
A robyn gentyl robyn, Cornish [Wyatt] 53v-54r
Whilles lyue or breth is in my brest, Cornish 54v-55r
Thow that men do call it dotage, Henry VIII 55v-56r
Departure is my chef payne, Henry VIII 60v
It is to me a ryght gret Ioy, Henry VIII (Incipit) 61r
I haue bene a foster, Cooper 65v-66r
Fare well my Ioy and my swete hart, Cooper 66v-68r
Withowt dyscord, Henry VIII 68v-69r
I am a joly foster [Unattributed] 69v-71r
Though sum saith that yough rulyth me [Henry VIII] 71v-73r
MAdame damours [Unattributed] 73v-74r
Adew adew le company [Unattributed] 74v-75r
Deme the best of euery dowt, Lloyd 79v
Hey troly loly loly [Unattributed] 80r
Taunder Naken, Henry VIII (Incipit) 82v-84r
Whoso that wyll for grace sew, Henry VIII 84v-85r
En vray Amoure, Henry VIII 86v-87r
Let not vs that yongmen be [Unattributed] 87v-88r
Dulcis amica [Prioris] (Incipit) 88v-89r
Lusti yough shuld vs ensue, Henry VIII 94v-97r
Now [Unattributed] 98r
Belle sur tautes [Agricola] (Incipit) 99v-100r
ENglond be glad pluk vp thy lusty hart [Unattributed] 100v-102r
Pray we to god that all may gyde [Unattributed] 103r
Ffors solemant, [de Févin, after Ockeghem] (Incipit) 104v-105r
And I war a maydyn [Unattributed] 106v-107r
Why shall not I [Unattributed] 107v-108r
What remedy what remedy [Unattributed] 108v-110r
Wher be ye [Unattributed] 110v-112r
QUid petis o fily, Pygott 112v-116r
My thought oppressed my mynd in trouble [Unattributed] 116v-120r
Svmwhat musyng [Fayrfax / Woodville] 120v-122r
I loue vnloued suche is myn aduenture [Unattributed] 122v-124r
Hey troly loly lo [Unattributed] 124v-128r

The Manuscript[edit]

Authors and Composers Represented[edit]

Appendices[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. This extended note contains materials which will not be treated – except in heavily condensed form – in Siemens' edition of the lyrics of the Henry VIII Manuscript for the Renaissance English Text Society, available from the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and Google Books.
  2. See Frances Yates’ Astrea (29-87).
  3. See, for example, studies in the literature of the Henrician court carried out by Alistair Fox, in his Politics and Literature in the Reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII, and Greg Walker, in his Plays of Persuasion, among others.
  4. On the nature of the fiction of courtly love, see the fourth chapter of R.F. Green’s Poets and Princepleasers, “The Court of Cupid” (101-134); also the chapters in Stevens M&P: “The ‘Game of Love’” (154-202) and “The Courtly Makers from Chaucer to Wyatt” (203-232). On the dynamic of political power inherent to such “fictions,” see Anglo (Spectacle, Pageantry, and Early Tudor Policy).
  5. See OED (“accoutrement”).