The Lyrics of Henry VIII/Svmwhat musyng (Fayrfax / Woodville)

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Lyrics  |  Manuscript  |  Authors and Composers
The Lyrics of Henry VIII
Appendix 1: Lyrics by Occasion/Theme  |  Appendix 2: Textual/Musical Witnesses  |  Appendix 3: Bibliography

My thought oppressed my mynd in trouble I loue vnloued suche is myn aduenture

[ff. 120v-122r]

Svmwhat musyng
and more mornyng
in remembryng
the unstedfastnes
this world beyng                                      5
of such walyng
me contraryng
what my I gesse

I fere doutles
remedyles                                              10
is now to cese
my wofull chance
for vnkyndnes
withowtyn les
and no redresse                                     15
me doth avance

with dysplesance
to my greuance
and no surance
of remedy                                               20
lo in this trance
now in substance
such is my chance
willyng to dye.

Me thynk trewly                                      25
bowndon am I
and that gretly
to be content
seyng playnly
fortune doth wry                                     30
all contrary
from myn entent

my lyf was lent
to an entent
it is nye spent                                         35
welcum fortune
yet I ne went
thus to be shent
but she is ment
such ys her went                                    40

Textual Commentary

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Certainly more in keeping with the general tone of the lyrics in LFay, “Svmwhat musyng” remains one of the few moralising or meditative works in H. Attributed to Anthony Woodville, Lord Rivers, who wrote the words while imprisoned in Pontefract prior to his beheading in 1483,[1] the lyric suitably meditates upon the fickleness of fortune and the unsteadfastness of this world. A moralized version exists in the The Gude and Godlie Ballatis, though it was condemned and excised from the 1586 edition (see James [Mitchell, ed.]); see also BL Additional MS 18,752 [f. 28r]). A lyric with similar tone is the unattributed “My thought oppressed my mynd in trouble” (H 72).

6 walyng Wailing.
11 cese Cease.
12 my wofull chance Cf. the unattributed “My thought oppressed my mynd in trouble” (H 72.22).
14 withowtyn les Without release.
21 trance State of extreme apprehension or dread, but also a stunned or dazed state (OED n.1 1, 3.a).
22 in substance In reality, in essence.
30 wry Swerve, turn (OED v.2 2).
36 welcum fortune See the title to this lyric’s moralized version, listed above.
37 went Thought, supposed (OED “wend” v.2).
38 shent Ruined, brought to destruction; also, put to shame (OED v.1 1, 3).
39 she is ment She had it in mind the whole time (Stevens M&P 94).
40 went Path, way, course of action or plan (OED 1,3).

“Svmwhat musyng” is through-set in three voices. While not attributed in H, LFay and Wells ascribe it to Fayrfax. The text of the lyric has been ascribed to Anthony Woodville, Lord Rivers (see commentary above). In H and LFay, it appears complete, set for three voices with a text of eight line stanzas that are complete only when all voices are taken into account. The fragments of Wells, CFitz, and NYDrex compose the better part of another witness; the exact details of this grouping, and a dispelling of concerns regarding other lost witness fragments of this lyric, are noted by Fallows (“Drexel Fragments,” 5–6, 15–16). Robbins (Index & Suppl. 3193.5) notes that a witness appears in LVes (f. 170v), but this editor has been unable to locate that witness from Robbins’ directions.

Indexed in Robbins Index & Suppl. 3193.5 and Ringler MS TM1452. Reprinted in Arber 180, Chronicles 209, Flügel Anglia 254–5, Hearne 214, Percy 2.46, Ritson 149, Stafford Collection #9, Stevens M&P 361–2 and 423–24, Stevens MCH8 90–94, and Turner 3.465.

Textual Notes

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Texts Collated

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H1,2,3 (ff. 120v–122r), LFay1,2,3 (ff. 33v–35r), Wells1,2,3 (ff. 1r–2r, ll. 28–40 Wells1, ll. 9–40 Wells2), CFitz (f. 1r, ll. 1–9, 22–23), NYDrex (f. 1r, ll. 1–19)

1 omit H3, LFay2, Wells3
2 mornyng] omit H1, LFay1, NYDrex, moryng H2,3
5 omit Wells3
6 omit H3, LFay2, Wells3
7 me contraryng] omit H1, LFay1, NYDrex, me contraryng H2
9 I fere doutles] omit H1, LFay1, NYDrex, I fere doutles H2
10 remedyles] omit H1, LFay1, Wells3, NYDrex, remedyles H2
11 is now to cese] omit H1, LFay1, NYDrex; is now] is now to cese H2, now LFay2
12 my wofull chance] omit H1, LFay1, NYDrex, my wofull chance H2
13 omit H3, Wells2,3
14 omit H3, LFay2, Wells3
15 omit H3, LFay2, Wells3
16 avance^] auance. H2, a vaunce^ LFay1,3, omit H3, LFay2, Wells3
17 omit Wells2
18 omit Wells3 my] me NYDrex; greuance] grete grevance LFay2, gret grevance LFay3
20 omit Wells2
21 trance] tance H1,2, trance H3, trance LFay1,2,3, Wells3; lo in] in Wells3
23 such ~ chance] such chance. H2; chance] daunce LFay1,2,3, d. . . Wells2
26 bowndon am I] omit H1, LFay1, bowndon am I H2; am I] were I LFay3
27 and that gretly] omit H1, LFay1, and that gretly H2; that gretly] gretely LFay3, grettly Wells3
28 omit H3, LFay2, Wells3
29 seyng playnly] omit H1, LFay1, Wells1, seyng planly H2; playnly] planly H2,3, playnly LFay2,3, Wells2
30 fortune] for time LFay2
31 omit Wells1–2
32 from] fro H1, from H2,3, for LFay1,2,3, to Wells1,2, from to Wells3
33 my lyf was lent] omit H1, LFay1, Wells1
34 omit H3, an] one Wells1,2
36 welcum fortune] welcum fortune welcum fortune H2, well cum fortune well cum fortune LFay1, well on forton well cum fortune Wells1, well cum forton well com forton Wells2
37 omit H3, LFay2, Wells3; yet] ye H1,3, yet H2, LFay1,3, yit Wells1,2
38 omit H3, LFay2, Wells3; shent] spent LFay1,3
39 but she is ment] omit H1,3, LFay2, Wells3, but she is ment H2,3; is] it LFay2,3, Wells2,3
40 went^] wone^ LFay1,2,3, wone. Wells1,2, mone^ Wells3


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  1. See Stevens M&P (362), Berdan’s Early Tudor Poetry (150), and Arber’s Dunbar Anthology (180).