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Songs written by Henry VIII

c.1518

Songs written by Henry VIII

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  • Intro

    Henry VIII was highly respected as a musician and composer. This manuscript, known as the Henry VIII Songbook, was probably compiled around 1518, and includes 20 songs and 13 instrumental pieces ascribed to ‘The Kynge H’. This famous song, 'Pastyme With Good Companye', celebrates the joys of princely life such as hunting, singing and dancing. The manuscript was produced for someone close to the court, possibly Sir Henry Guildford (1489–1532), the Controller of the Household and Master of the Revels.

  • Transcript

    'Pastyme With Good Companye', or, 'Pastime with Good Company'

    Original text:

     

    Pastyme with good companye
    I love and shall untyll I dye;
    Grugge who lust, but noon denye;
    So god be plecyd, thus leve woll I;
    For my pastaunce
    Hunte, syng and daunce;
    My hert ys sett
    All godely sport
    For my cumfort:
    Who shall me lett?

     

    Yowth must have sum dalyaunce,
    Of good or yll some pastaunce;
    Companye my thynckyth then best
    All thoftes and fancys to dygest.
    For idelnes
    Ys cheff mastres
    Of vices all;
    Than who can say
    But myrth and play
    Ys best of all?

     

    Cumpany with honeste
    Ys vertu, vices to flee;
    Cumpany ys gode and yll,
    But every man hath hys frewyll.
    The best insew,
    The worst eschew,
    My mynde shall be;
    Vertu to use,
    Vyce to reffuse,
    Thus schall I use me.

     

    Transliteration in present day English:

     

    Pastime with good company
    I love, and shall until I die
    Grudge who will, but none deny,
    So God be pleased, thus live will I.
    For my pastance:
    Hunt, sing, and dance,
    My heart is set!
    All goodly sport,
    For my comfort,
    Who shall me let?   

      
    Youth must have some dalliance,
    Of good or ill some pastance.
    Company methinks them best,
    All thoughts and fancies to digest.
    For idleness
    Is chief mistress
    Of vices all:
    Then who can say,
    But mirth and play,
    Is best of all


    Company with honesty,
    Is virtue, vice to flee.
    Company is good and ill,
    But every man has his free will.
    The best ensue,
    The worst eschew,
    My mind shall be:
    Virtue to use,
    Vice to refuse,
    Thus shall I use me!

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