Edmund Horace Fellowes.

English madrigal verse, 1588-1632; online

. (page 1 of 41)
Online LibraryEdmund Horace FellowesEnglish madrigal verse, 1588-1632; → online text (page 1 of 41)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook






her book


. Booksellers

50 and si BBOAD STHBET




Oxford University Press
London Edinburgh Glasgow New York

Toronto Melbourne Cape Town Bombay
Humphrey Milford Publisher to the University




Edited from the Original
Song Books







List of the AUTHORS ... . Pages 2-4

The POEMS Pages 5-250

NOTES Pages 251-282

INDEX of First Lines . . . Pages 283-300


List of the AUTHORS
INDEX of First Lines

Pages 302-304
Pages 305-605
Pages 606-628
Pages 629-640



IT has for many years been recognized that the song-books of
the great English musical composers who flourished for a brief
but brilliant period at the close of the sixteenth and beginning
of the seventeenth century contain a splendid collection of
lyric poetry written in the golden age of English literature,
some of it available from other sources and well known to lovers
of poetry, but much of it forgotten and undiscovered except
by the rare students of the song-books themselves. Several
volumes of poems selected from these song-books have been
published from time to time. A certain number of lyrics ap-
peared in Beloe's Anecdotes of Literature, in Brydges's Censura
Literaria, and in the British Bibliographer ; while Rimbault
mentions a proposal made in 1816, but never carried out, for
publishing a more complete collection of madrigal poetry.
Another collection was that of Thomas Oliphant, the enthusiastic
secretary of the Madrigal Society, whose La Musa Madrigalesca
was published in 1837 ; and John Payne Collier's Lyrical
Poems selected from musical publications between the years 1589
and 1600 was printed for the Percy Society in 1844. Professor
Arber did much more comprehensive work in this direction,
though it was very far from covering the whole field ; but
among the shorter Elizabethan poems of An English Garner he
included the complete words of Byrd's three Sets, Wilbye's
First Set, The Triumphs of Oriana, Yonge's first collection of
Musica Transalpina, together with the whole of the Sets of
Campian and John Dowland, and that of Alison. In more recent
times Mr. A. H. Bullen's Lyrics from the Elizabethan Song-
books has done much to draw further public attention to this
rich store of verse. Among other books of the same kind
may be mentioned Mr. F. A. Cox's Madrigals in the time of
Shakespeare, although Mr. Cox does not always appear to
have consulted the original editions, and has rather rashly
printed several known poems by Elizabethan writers as being


those employed by the madrigalists on no more evidence than
the similarity of the first two or three words. Mr. Barclay
Squire has printed in their entirety the lyrics of Robert Jones's
Muses Gardinjor Delights ; and Campian's works have somewhat
tardily been published in complete form both by Mr. A. H.
Bullen and Mr. Percival Vivian. A comprehensive work by
Herr Wilhelm Bolle entitled Die gedruckten englischen Lieder-
bficher bis 1600 was published in Berlin in 1908, and is the nearest
approach to a complete edition of the English madrigal lyrics
that has hitherto been achieved. But since it stops short at
the year 1600 it leaves more than half the field untouched ;
and the fact that the notes and all other comment on the text
are in German lessens its practical use for a section, at any
rate, of English readers.

Apart from the purely literary interest which a complete
collection of these poems should arouse, a definite need of sucn
an edition is being felt by those, and they are no inconsiderable
number, who are first brought into contact with the lyrics
through musical channels. The names of the authors of the
words were never given in the Elizabethan song-books, and,
although the authorship of some few of the poems is definitely
known, the identification of the greater number is a task beyond
those who may become familiar with the words only through
the medium of the music ; for it must be remembered that only
a small fraction of the madrigal music has as yet been re-
printed in modern and accessible form, 1 and that in modern
editions of the music the authorship of the words is not always
recorded even when known. The complete edition of the lyrics
now issued, which is based solely upon the original part-books,
will, it is hoped, fill all these needs.

For neglecting to produce such an edition in the past the
musicians of this country are far more blameworthy than are
the students of literature ; for it is due to their neglect of these

1 In the English Madrigal School Series (Stainer and Bell) the
writer has now reprinted the complete madrigal-writings of Morley,
Gibbons, Wilbye, Weelkes, Byrd", and Farmer, the Series having
reached its sixteenth volume, though much more has yet to be done.


song-books that only such of the lyrics are familiar as have come
down to us from other and purely literary sources. Meanwhile
it is a fact too little known to the ordinary man of letters or
to people of average education, that English music at the close
of the Elizabethan era stood in the forefront of the music of
Europe. This indisputable truth not only deserves to be
recognized as a matter of general interest, but ought to be
inseparable from the ordinary course of general education. To
those who take a reasonable pride in the past achievements of
their own countrymen, the names of Byrd, Morley, Wilbye,
Dowland, and many another ought to be at least as well
known as arfc the names of the great national leaders in Poetry
and Painting. Yet many people of wide culture would confess
unashamed to ignorance of such English composers, although
they would be covered with confusion if they had to admit
unfamiliarity with the achievements of, say, Marlowe or Dryden,
of Reynolds or Turner.

The Elizabethan song-books belong to two entirely separate
classes, each with its own distinctive features, namely, those
of the madrigal-composers proper, and those of the lutenists ;
and in the present edition the lyrics are arranged under these
two headings. It is not proposed here to consider in much
detail the subject of madrigals from a technical point of view,
since it has been fully treated by the present Editor in his
English Madrigal-Composers. 1 It will be sufficient to say that
the madrigal took the form of unaccompanied song for at least
three, and rarely for more than six, voice-parts. It was con-
structed mainly upon short musical phrases treated contra-
puntally, while each voice-part had an equal share of melodic
interest, the musical phrases being taken up consecutively
rather than simultaneously by the various voice-parts, the verbal
phrases being several times reiterated. Occasionally this method
was varied by short periods in which all the voices moved
together in blocks of harmony. The true madrigal was seldom'
set to more than one stanza of poetry ; and indeed these

1 The English Madrigal-Composers, by E. H. Fellowes, Clarendon


composers studied their words so closely, and expressed them-
selves with such intimate regard for the particular meaning of
each word and each phrase, that the exact repetition of their
music to a fresh stanza of words was scarcely ever possible.
Every kind of device was employed by the composers both to
secure variety and to sustain interest ; and, above all other con-
siderations, they strove to add meaning and point to the words
which they had chosen to set. It is especially in this last detail
that they proved themselves supreme. The poetry of the
period is admittedly of the first rank, but the fine imagination
of the greatest of the English madrigal-composers may be said
without exaggeration to have been equal to that of the poets,
with the result that the music added new beauty to the ' golden-
vowelled ' lyrics, and intensified their meaning, so that Eliza-
bethan music was indeed ' married to immortal verse ' in equal

Of the various kinds of madrigal it need only be said here
in a general way that the canzonet and other such alternative
terms, as used by the composers, do not imply any very material
difference of constructive principles. The ballet is an excep-
tion ; it is founded upon much more regular rhythmic outlines,
having originally been an art-form in which singing and dancing
were combined ; and a distinctive feature of the ballet in the
hands of the madrigalists was the introduction, at certain
well-defined closes of the words, of a passage of music sung to
no regular words but to the syllables fa la la. In music of a later
date these passages have their counterpart in interludes for the
pianoforte or orchestra, while the voices are silent. It is for
this reason that the fa la refrains, which, with rare exceptions,
have nothing to do with the poem, are omitted in the present
edition, which purports to deal with the words alone ; but
in the Notes reference will be given to each individual poem
in which the fa la or any other similar refrain is to be found in
the musical setting.

The music of the madrigals was printed in separate part-
books, each of these books containing the music for one voice-
part alone, and not simultaneously showing the music of the


composition as a whole, as in modern vocal score. The music
was printed without bars of any kind ; and the singer, unham-
pered by any such obstacle as that of bar-lines placed at regular
intervals, was allowed to sing his music with the true ictus
of the words, in exact accordance with the design of the composer.
A false tradition in this matter, which has its origin in the intro-
duction of bars at regular intervals in all reprints of music of
this class since the middle of the seventeenth century, has
unfortunately led to the serious error of supposing that the
Elizabethan musicians wantonly disregarded the laws of true
accent as employed in speech, whereas the reverse was actually
the case. When the madrigal music is properly rendered the
ictus should fall exactly as it would do when the words are well

We turn now to the lute-song composers, who expressed
themselves in a different type of musical composition. They
commonly gave to their song the title of Air, 1 a term which
was occasionally used by the madrigalists also for distinctively
madrigalian compositions. The Airs of the lutenists usually
took the form of solo-songs with several stanzas of words, for
each of which, as a general rule, the same music was repeated ;
the first stanza being set up with the music in the song-books,
while the subsequent stanzas were printed in metrical form on
another part of the page. When performed as solo-songs they
were accompanied with the lute, reinforced by a bass viol or
some such instrument, to add support and body to the general
effect ; while occasionally, as in three of the songs of Dowland
in A Pilgrimes Solace, more elaborate instrumental accompani-
ment was added. All the composers who published volumes
of this kind were themselves eminent performers on the lute,
and lute accompaniments form an invariable feature in their
songs as contrasted with those of the madrigal writers. As

1 There is no special virtue in retaining the Elizabethan spelling
of this word when dealing with the lute-songs, especially as the
modern word Air retains the old meaning of tune or song. It was
the common practice to use y in place of i, and final e was in
general use.


an alternative method of performance the lutenists frequently
harmonized their melodies for four voices so that they could
be sung without accompaniment, as were the madrigals ; but
the style of treatment was very much simpler and lacked
many of the essential features of the true madrigal. Some-
times again the lutenists' Airs were in the form of vocal duet ;
and sometimes, too, the composer would arrange the music so
as to admit of several different ways of performance. Thus,
for instance, John Dowland's First Book of Airs in 1597 was ' so
made that all the partes together or either of them severally
may be sung to the Lute, Orpherion, or Viol de Gambo '.
Another distinctive feature of the lutenists' song-books was
their shape and size. The madrigal part-books were in quarto,
the lute-song books almost invariably folio. When the solo-
songs were adapted by the composer for alternative performance
as part-songs, all the voice-parts were printed in one book, but
were so arranged on the open page that the four performers
could sing from the one book placed in the centre of the

The details of the composers' works to be treated under
these two headings must next be discussed. We are fortunate
in knowing with some degree of completeness what sets of com-
positions were published by these composers ; several of these
sets are now represented by only one known exemplar, but very
few seem to have perished entirely. One of the sets, for instance,
that cannot be traced is Nathaniel Patrick's Songes of Sundrye
Natures, 1597, the full title of which is given in Mr. Robert
Steele's catalogue. The present editor would for various reasons
take 1588, the year which saw the publication of William Byrd's
First Set, as the date when the English Madrigal School may be
said to have come into being. This leads to the exclusion of
Thomas Whythorne's work from the present volume ; for his
first publication was as many as seventeen years earlier, and
contains nothing of quite first-rate interest, either as poetry
or music, while his Second Set, published in 1590, is one of
those music-books in which nothing more than the opening
words are printed except of the compositions set to sacred


words. The great bulk of the wonderful output of madrigals
was issued in the very short period covered by the subse-
quent twenty-five years, Bateson's Second Set in 1618 and
that of Tomkins in 1622 being among the few really first-rate
publications of a later date. The series actually closes with
the younger Hilton's somewhat feeble volume of Fa las
but in a book dealing with the lyrics rather than with the
music, it may be thought permissible to include the poems
in the two volumes of Peerson's compositions, although the
second volume was published as late as 1630, and in spite of the
fact that Peerson's music cannot strictly be described as of
madrigalian design. Furthermore, within this range of years,
1588 to 1630, such sets as John Amner's Sacred Hymns of 3, 4}
5, and 6 Parts, 1615, which deal solely with sacred music, are
excluded ; and Sir William Leighton's Tears or Lamentations
of a Sorrowfull Soule, 1614, consisting almost entirely of biblical
or semi-religious words, appeared to be out of place in a collection
of lyric verse. On the other hand, it was thought desirable,
for the sake of completeness, not to omit the sacred words that
are found interspersed among the secular compositions of Byrd,
John Mundy, and others ; and for the same reason translations
from Italian madrigals, and even a few examples of Italian
words, are not excluded when they form part of a genuine
English Madrigal Set. Complete Sets of adaptations, even
though of contemporary work, have been omitted. Thus such
volumes as Thomas Watson's Italian Madrigals Englished,
Yonge's two sets of Musica Transalpina, and Morley's volumes
of Italian Madrigals with English words, fall outside the scope of
the present volume. Ravenscroft's Pammelia, Deuteromelia, and
Melismata are excluded because they consist almost entirely of
rounds and folk-songs, and neither from a literary nor a musical
point of view come under the heading of madrigals. On the
other hand, the same composer's examples in his Brief Discourse
of the true use of Charactering the Degrees . . . in Measurable
Musicke have been admitted, without, it may be hoped, undue
inconsistency. Very few of the songs in this last-mentioned
book of Ravenscroft's are really madrigalian ; but some of the


lyrics are quite in keeping with the scheme of the present volume,
and, though others in the set are in the nature of tavern songs,
the sporting numbers are characteristic and full of interest,
and some even of beauty. Greaves's Songs of Sundrie Kindes,
which concludes with six madrigals, contains, for the most part,
music with lute accompaniment ; and as it seemed advisable
not to divide the set, it is included in its entirety among the
compositions of the lutenists. Cavendish's book is similar in
design to that of Greaves.

The lute-song series begins with Dowland's First Book in
1597, and, strictly speaking, ends with Attey's book in 1622.
But a point has, perhaps pardonably, been stretched in order
to include Walter Porter's volume of 1632. This is certainly
not accurately described by the composer as a set of ' madrigals ',
nor can it really be said to belong to the lute-song series ; but
the lute is actually named as one of the accompanying instru-
ments, and this fact must serve as an excuse for including
this volume, which certainly contains several beautiful lyrics.
The incidental songs in the masques of the period are entirely
outside the scope of the present collection ; and Edward
Filmer's French Court Airs with their ditties Englished, 1629,
is passed over for reasons already stated.

No biographical details of the composers are given here,
as the reader is referred to the Editor's English Madrigal-
Composers and elsewhere, for information of that kind. But
mention must be made here of the spelling of Thomas Campian's
name, which has been deliberately adopted by the Editor
in spite of the usual custom. There is authority both for
Campian and Campion in books printed in his own time,
but the title-pages of his books of Airs give Campian ; and
in a Latin epigram addressed to John Dowland and printed in
the latter's first book of Airs (1597) he adopted the Latin form
THO. CAMPIANI Epigramma, &c. The weight of contemporary
evidence is certainly in favour of Campian.

The sets. of lyrics are arranged under the names of the musical
composers in alphabetical order. Any attempt to follow an
exact chronological order would have involved some insur-


mountable difficulties, and would, moreover, necessitate the
separation of individual composers' sets. But little, if any,
advantage would be gained by a chronological arrangement,
since the composers drew from literary sources which cover
a comparatively wide period, while the poems have no actual
relation to the dates of the musical publications.

The reconstruction of the poems from the words as given
in the part-books can be carried out with no great difficulty
in the large majority of cases. As regards the lutenists' song-
books the task is but slight, because almost invariably one
stanza or more of each poem is set up in metrical form apart
from the music ; so that in any case of doubt in dealing with
those words that are fitted to the musical notation, the subse-
quent stanzas form a guide to metre and other details. Yet
it must be mentioned that for economy of space, or for other
reasons, the verses were seldom so well arranged metrically as
in the contemporary editions of the works of the poets, and
the arrangement of the song-books has been freely handled in
the present edition.

But in dealing with the madrigal part-books, with some few
exceptions, each lyric has to be separated from the music, and
then arranged in metrical form, without any such indication
as is provided in the lute-song books. That the scope of
an editor's work in this connexion may be fully understood,
it is necessary to explain how the musician usually dealt
with his words in composing a madrigal. These composi-
tions consisted largely of brief musical phrases, often requiring
no more than half a line of verse at a time ; and such
a fragment of verse was repeated more than once by all the
voice-parts before the introduction of a new musical phrase
with further words. Very often the musical requirements of
one or more of the voice-parts could not be exactly met by the
verbal phrase as it stood in the poem, and this difficulty was
sometimes overcome by the addition of fresh material, taking
perhaps the form of some interjection such as ' alas ! ' or ' ay
me ! ' ; while occasionally some fresh epithet or other unim-
portant word was introduced by the composer to satisfy his


needs. The elimination of words was also an obvious device
when circumstances required the shortening of a phrase ; and
it is not unusual to find a word of one syllable substituted
for another of two syllables. Again, when a fragment of a
line of verse was separated from its context for contrapuntal
treatment, the real meaning of the words was sometimes
rendered uncertain, and in such circumstances the composers
did not hesitate to transpose words to make the meaning
clear in its musical setting. Such methods of dealing with the
text may be termed musical licences, and, although such licences
were very much more the exception than the rule, it will be
recognized that an editor's task of reconstructing even the
simplest texts from the madrigal part-books involves much
more than simple transcription.

Examples may here be quoted to illustrate the preceding
statement :

The following are the opening lines of Morley's Three-part
Canzonet ' What ails my darling ' (1593 Canzonets, No. 18)
as they actually stand in the part-books with the music :

Cantus. What ails my darling, say what ails my darling,
what ails my sweet pretty darling, what ails my sweet, what
ails mine own sweet darling ? What ails my darling dear thus
sitting all alone, sitting all alone, all alone so weary ? Say,
why is my dear now not merry ?

Altus. What ails my darling, say what ails my darling, what
ails my darling dear, what ails mine only sweet, mine only
sweet darling ? What ails my darling, what ails my darling
dear, sitting all alone, sitting all alone so weary ? Say what
grieves my dear that she is not merry ?

Bassus. What ails my darling, say what ails my darling,
what ails my darling, say what ails my dainty dainty darling,
what ails mine own sweet darling ? What ails my dainty
darling, my dainty darling so to sit alone, so to sit alone so
weary, and is not merry ?

The problem of reconstructing the metrical form of these
words is of course capable of several different solutions (that
of the Editor will be found on p. 124). But this is an unusually
difficult case, and similar examples are rare, and almost entirely
confined to the earlier work of Thomas Morley. In madrigals of


this type the words and music are really in a sense inseparable,
forming together one artistic whole, and when the music is taken
away an integral part of the whole has been removed ; therefore,
what is left an incomplete thing in itself must be rearranged
to give it the semblance of a whole. And this rearrangement
should attempt to trace backwards the several steps taken by
the musician in the course of evolving his composition. The
reconstruction of the poem must in just a few such cases be a
little speculative ; yet even in these it is well worth attempting ;
for if the words were literally transcribed as above, poetic feeling
would be wholly eliminated. One other example may be quoted
to show the kind of material upon which an editor has to
work. The following is from Peerson's Private Mustek (No. 24),
the unique complete exemplar of which is in the Bodleian

Cantus. See, see, see, who is here, who comes a-maying. . . .
And his sweet beauteous Orian. Why left we off our playing to
gaze on them that gods as well as men amaze ? Jug, jug, jug,
lark raise thy note and wing. All birds, all birds, their music
bring . . . Record on every bush . . . whose like was never seen,
for good and fair. Nor can be though fresh May should every
day invite a several pair.

Altus. See, see, who is fcere come a-maying. The master
of the Ocean. Why left we off our playing. To gaze on them
that gods as men amaze ? Jug, jug, jug, thy note (words missing
here) . . . Robin, Linnet, Thrush, the welcome of the king and
queen whose like we (sic) never seen for good and fair, nor can
be though fresh May should every day invite a several pair.

Cantus secundus. See see, who is here come a-maying . . .

Online LibraryEdmund Horace FellowesEnglish madrigal verse, 1588-1632; → online text (page 1 of 41)