30 December 2008

englit day

One of the many reasons why we classicists are so widely disliked and loathed is our patronising disdain for common ordinary people. So let me demonstrate how broadminded we really are by printing the text of the 'elegy' which, to music composed by William Byrd, was sung at the New York Mass for Queen Mary Tudor (see post headed 450 ...); it seems, in fact, to be a sonnet with faintly protoshaxperian symptoms.

Crowned with flow'rs and lilies I saw the Muses
A shrine adorn above the sphere of crystal,
Therein to place a Queen whom Fate refuses
A sacred tomb to give of fame immortal:

Mary she hight, of Henry great the daughter,
For whom these ladies came richly adorned,
And offer'd all with tears on golden altar
A sacred hymn, and singing thus, they mourned:

O worthy Queen! Though Fortune thee denieth
A pyramid of gold to heav'n aspiring,
Yet Virtue shining bright, which never dieth,
Of thy good life on earth leaves such admiring,

That through the world the fame hath sounded
Of Mary, noble Queen of Britain crowned.

The Revd Dr W Wizeman, in his note, explained: 'This same elegy was also set to a madrigal by Phillipe de Monte (1521-1603), whom Byrd met when De Monte accompanied Philip of Spain to wed Mary in 1554. Their mutual appreciaton continued long after: in 1583 De Monte, now Kapellmeister of the Imperial Court in Vienna, wrote Super flumina Babylonis for Byrd, who responded with Quomodo cantabimus.'

Quomodo cantabimus canticum Domini in terra aliena. The last three words of this verse from Psalm 136/137 were the title of a book by the papalist priest Fr Hrauda. They fit our situation even more closely now ...

6 comments:

The Welsh Jacobite said...

Amused by the reference to "Henry great". Did they sing those words at the N.Y. Mass??

rev'd up said...

I delight that Byrd was such a vocal and prominent recusant. His life puts to rest claims of Roman tradies that Elizabeth I and her regime were virulently anti-Catholic. Byrd's anthem, "O Lord, Make Thy Servant Elizabeth," http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQJq36OGE9g
is one of his most beautiful compositions and I think betrays a genuine affection. Though all in all, Byrd does not deserve the praise his older contemporary, Tallis does, whose 40 part "Spem in alium" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Cn7ZW8ts3Y
is perhaps the finest composition of the age. Both court composers were Catholics at the time though Tallis latter "converted."

Today, Christians have more to fear from the "Church" than they do governments.

Presbyter said...

rev'd up If Elizabeth I and her regime were not anti-catholic then what were they? A few court catholics kept for special abilities count for very little when all the bishops except one , a lutheran,were calvinists, when an archbishop had written on the Pope as Anti-Christ,while those who professed the old religion were fined and priests who did not conform tortured and hung ,drawn, and quartered. If this be not anti-Catholicism then what was it? Nor is such an unfavourable view that of catholic historians only , it seems an increasingly common view of modern secular and protestant historians. Elizabeth's regime was not a compromise.

Since then Christians of all types have had much to fear from states which claimed to enforce systems of belief on their subjects. One has only to mention Communists, Nazis, and modern secularists to see the truth of this contention.
Fortunately some brave artists seem to flourish regardless of the system of government.

rev'd up said...

Dear Presbyter: Please note, I said "virulently" anti-Catholic. Certainly some papists suffered for the crimes they committed or plotted against the crown; but if their motives were pure, they had nothing to fear; they were hastened to God by martyrdom. However, that most of their motives were pure is, I believe, pure silliness, they were more purely blind ambitious murderers. Perhaps you believe Christ advocates murder when the Pope calls for it? As for some Popes being anti-Christ, even the Roman Church acknowledges that one (barring Leo the Great's "ex cathedra" proclamation that all Popes are de facto Saints).

Pastor in Valle said...

rev'd up.

Grow up!

and read some history. You've been watching too much Kate Blanchett's Elizabeth!
'if their motives were pure, then they had nothing to fear' What planet do you live on?

rev'd up said...

Who's Kate What-her-name?

As for "growing up," I hear it's over rated.