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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

All Goodly Sport-The King of Music


The things you learn driving around lost in the Welsh countryside. Did you know that King Henry VIII was an accomplished musician? He played every kind of instrument. Recorder, crumhorn, lute, drums, bagpipes and even the organ. 

Southern Wales is the birthplace of the Tudor Dynasty. During my visit there I was fortunate enough to be able to listen to BBC Radio 3, one of their classical stations. They had all kinds of interesting information about the music they play.  I happened upon a show called In Tune.  The guests that day were a Choral group called Sirinu. I rushed right home (as fast as you can go while being lost) and bought their CD, All Goodly Sport.

Henry was first exposed to music as a young boy. Some believe that the tutor who taught the young prince French, also taught him how to play the lute and from that time forward, Henry was enamored of music. He spent hours a day playing the recorder and even later in life spent hours practicing the organ. But Henry’s favorite instrument always remained the lute.

The king was an accomplished lute player. Many times he played for court visitors who were amazed at his proficiency. One minister from Italy even said that the King took great joy in performing his music.

King Henry was also a composer. It’s been said that he composed several mass requiems for the organ and hundreds of songs for recorder and horn, some with words, some without. Many of his love letters to various wives were set to music. Today only the scores for thirty-four short songs remain. Here are the lyrics to one of the most well known of them. 

Past Time With Good Company

Past time with good company
I love, and shall until I die
Grutch who lust, 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 then best
All throughts and funcies to digest
For idleness is chief mistress
Of vices all: than who can say
But mirth and play
Is best of all?

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


Music played an important part of life in medieval and renaissance times. Every court no matter how large or small had some kind of musician. The hero in my upcoming release, Widow's Peak, was able to get close enough to high level officials because of his skill with instruments. A man could go a long way with just a quill, a psaltry (that's a stringed instrument) and ... well other instruments of pleasure.

Do you play an instrument? Write songs about friends and lovers like Henry? Leave a comment about your musical life and I'll enter you in a contest to win a copy of the official guide book to Pembroke Castle (Where Henry VII was born).

Hanna

17 comments:

Maureen said...

Thank you for the interesting history on Henry VIII. Years ago I used to play the flute and the piano when I was young but haven't played any instruments during my adult years. My husband, however, wants to get a CD to learn to play the piano that my daughter stopped playing years ago.mce1011[at]aol[dot]com

robynl said...

sobs, sobs if only I could play. I can't even carry a proper tune, honestly. In school we used to play Flutes during music. This is many years back, mind you.

Very interesting about Henry VIII

elizabeth said...

I enjoy music tremendously - all kinds, but have little to no talent in singing or playing an instrument. I was aware that Henry VIII was a talented musician, but I enjoyed reading what you had written.

Kytaira said...

Once upon a time I played the Piano Accordian. My parents made a deal with me that if I did that for a year to prove I really would practice, that I could then choose the intrument I really wanted. After the first year, they said one more year. After the second year they said, why quit now? I quit before the end of the third year and haven't picked up an instument since.

Then I married a guy in a hobby band that played guitar. My kids in turn wanted to play so my son is also a guitarist in a hobby band.

My daughter started playing guitar at school. When my husband went in to play for the kids, they roped him into volunteering to teach another group of kids. My daughter has since played the trumpet and now the french horn.

Amy said...

When I was in high school, I was in chorus - district, traveling choir, "choraleers" etc. These days the only *instruments* I play are keyboards (of the computer variety) and *ceedees* (you know, those round shiny things that go into slots on your computer tower, car dashboard, etc.). Both my kids played clarinet in elementary school. Anyone want to buy a used Buffet step-up clarinet, LOL!

Anthea Lawson said...

Your books sound wonderful! I'm a big fan of musicians as protagonists. I play the Irish fiddle professionally and teach music. So not biased at all toward music. Nope. ;)

Mary Ricksen said...

I used to play the guitar. Years ago, I don't know why I stopped, I just did.

Jaimie Krzemien said...
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Jaimie Krzemien said...
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Jadzia said...

That was very interesting about Henry VIII, we look at him these days as a wicked slob, who would have known he played beautiful music!
I play the guitar, acoustic guitar. I've been playing since I was in my teens. I have written a few songs, most of them silly or love songs. I haven't done so in a while now but I want to get back into it this Summer. I own a couple of flutes, but am not a good flute player. I also have a mandolin that I will one day learn to play.

Evangeline Collins said...

Great post, Hanna!

Alas, I cannot carry a tune, I have absolutely no rhythm, and can't tell if a note is in tune or not. I love classical music and tried to play the violin a few years back. Bought one (still love it, and pet it every now and then), tried to play for a year and failed miserably. Really, I was bad. I now content myself with listening, and leave the music to hubby, who was a classial music major in college.

Linda Swift said...

I enjoyed your article very much. I love castles and kings. And music. So I married a talented musician and two musical children and a musical son-in-law. And you know what? Not one smidgen of talent rubbed off on me. I neither sing nor play but let me tell you, I a can do a mean cha-cha. I wish you success with your books. Linda

Terry Blain said...

When I was teaching Western Civilization, and got to Tudor England, I used to tell the class that we would pretend we were spending an evening with Henry VIII, and then I'd pass out sheet music and tell everyone they had to sing or play their parts. Shock all around - but what else are you going to do with no radio, tv, iPod, etc? You have to make your own music.

I played a little, but mostly sang in the choir for years and years.

Both our son's played in the school band - trumpet, clairnet and saxaphone.

Oh, and if I win the prize, I'll read it to my Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

PhyllisC said...

I really enjoyed the post and the information. Historical stories are my favorite.

I learned to play the French Horn when I was in school. I got tired of carrying it around and learned to play the flute. I still have it and play it from time to time for my grandkids. They think it is really neat. I've always wanted to play the piano but have never had one so that I could practice. I love music and listen to all kinds.

Eliza Knight said...

Great post! I've listened to Henry's music online, its very intersting. I must say I was surprised when I learned about his abilities too. The man seemed to have his hand in all the pots didn't he?

I grew up playing piano, and plan this summer to being teaching my girls.

Congrats on your upcoming release!

tim said...

i knew henry played music like he wrote greensleeves but i didn't know he did all those things musicly i had thought he only played the lute and im supossed to be a decendant of henry.

Patricia Barraclough said...

The only musical instrument I can play is the CD player. I have tried but can only play the piano poorly. My husband gave me a beautiful lap dulcimer and I still haven't been able to play it.
librarypat@comcast.net