"Pastyme With Good Company"
Henry VIII, early 16th century

  (recorders, trombone, and percussion)

This robust little tune (very famous if you are an early music buff) was composed by King Henry VIII of England. It is one of 14 songs in the British Museum dating from the early 16th century which are signed: "By the Kings Hand".  Musicologists have been squabbling for years as to whether Henry really did write this piece, but the consensus of opinion is that he did.  Like any man of noble or aristocratic birth during Renaissance times, Henry was expected to have mastered many skills including fencing, hunting, dancing, writing poetry, singing, and playing and composing music. His more dubious accomplishments, however, are better known. A list of royal possessions from Henry's reign includes a large carved, wooden chest containing 47 recorders.

Company, good company,
I love and shall until I die.
Begrudge who lust (will), but none deny;
So God be pleased, thus live will I;

For my pastance (pastime),                                                                       
Hunt, sing and dance;

My heart is set
All goodly sport

For my comfort;
Who shall me let (hinder)?

Youth must have some dalliance,
Of good or ill some pastance;
Company me thinks then 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, vices to flee;
Company is good and ill,
But every 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.


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