The Lyrics of Henry VIII
R.G. Siemens, Editor

A Note on These Texts

What follows is a series of modern spelling texts comprising the lyrical writings of Henry VIII from what has come to be known the Henry VIII Manuscript (ca. 1513; British Library Additional Manuscript 31,922), which contains nearly all of the king's lyrical works. Not readily available in print, these texts are made available from my own work, King, Court, and Literary Accoutrement: The English Lyrics of the Henry VIII Manuscript, and are presented here as a component of "Texts and Contexts of the Early Tudor Lyric" (English 392, Fall 1996). In this instance, the texts have been edited from their original and collated, silently, with witnesses, when extant; modern spelling and punctuation have been adopted silently as well; this version of these texts contain no commentary.

These texts are R.G. Siemens, 1996-; redistribution or archiving by expressed written permission only.

A Listing of the Lyrics (by incipit)

The Lyrics

Pastime with good company

Pastime with good company
I love and shall until I die.
Grudge who likes, 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 I think then best --
All thoughts and fantasies 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 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!

Alas, what shall I do for love?

Alas, what shall I do for love?
For love, alas, what shall I do?
Since now so kind
I do you find
To kepe you me unto.

Oh my heart

Oh my heart, and oh my heart,
My hart it is so sore.
Since I must from my love depart,
And know no cause wherefore.

The time of youth is to be spent

The time of youth is to be spent,
But vice in it should be forfent.
Pastimes there be I note truly
Which one may use and vice deny.
And they be pleasant to God and man:
Those should we covet when we can.
As feats of arms, and such other
Wherby activeness one may utter.
Comparisons in them may lawfully be set,
For, thereby, courage is surely out fet.
Vertue it is, then, youth for to spend
In good disports which it does fend.

Alac! Alac! What shall I do?

Alac! Alac! What shall I do?
For care is cast in to my heart,
And true love locked thereto.

Green grows the holly

Green grows the holly.
So does the ivy.
Though winter's blasts blow never so high,
Green grows the holly.

As the holly grows green
And never changes hue,
So I am -- ever have been --
unto my lady true.

As the holly grows green
With ivy all alone,
When flowers can not be seen
And greenwood leaves be gone.

Now unto my lady
Promise to her I make:
From all other, only
to her, I me betake.

Adieu, my own lady.
Adieu, my special
Who hath my heart truly,
Be sure, and ever shall.

Who so that will all feats obtain

Who so that will all feats obtain
In love he must be without disdain.
For love enforces all noble kind,
And disdain discourages all gentle mind.
Wherefore, to love and be not loved
Is worse than death? Let it be proved!
Love encourages, and makes one bold;
Disdain abates and makes him cold.
Love is given to God and man;
To woman also, I think the same.
But disdain is vice, and should be refused,
Yet never the less it is too much used.
Great pity it were, love for to compel
With disdain, both false and subtle.

If love now reigned

If love now reigned as it has been
And were rewarded as it has seen,
Noble men then would surely ensearch
All ways whereby they might it reach.
But envy reigns with such disdain
And causes lovers outwardly to refrain,
Which puts them to more and more,
Inwardly, most grievous and sore:
The fault in whom I cannot set,
But let them tell who love does get.
To lovers I put now sure this case:
Which of their loves does get them grace?
And unto them which doth it know
Better than do I, I think it so.

Whereto should I express

Whereto should I express
My inward heaviness?
No mirth can make me fain,
'Till that we meet again.

Do way, dear heart, not so.
Let no thought you dismay.
Though you now part me from,
We shall meet when we may.

When I remember me
Of your most gentle mind,
It may in no wise agree
That I should be unkind.

The daisy delectable,
The violet waning and blue,
You are not variable --
I love you and no more.

I make you fast and sure;
It is to me great pain
Thus long to endure
'Till that we meet again.

Though that men do call it dotage

Though that men do call it dotage,
Who loves not wants courage.
And whosoever may love get
From Venus surely he must it fetch,
Or else from her which is her heir.
And she to him must seem most fair.
Where eye and mind do both agree;
There is no but -- there must it be!
The eye does look and represent,
But mind affirms with full consent.
Thus am I fixed without grudge:
My eye with heart does me so judge.
Love maintains all noble courage;
Who love disdains is all of the village.
Such lovers, though they take pain,
It were pity they should obtain.
For often times where they do sue
They hinder lovers that would be true.
For who so loves should love but one.
Change who so will, I will be none.

Departure is my chief pain

Departure is my chief pain
I trust right well of return again.

Without discord

Without discord
And both accord,
Now let us be.
Both harts alone
To set in one,
Best seems me.
For when one sole
Is in the dole
Of love's pain,
Then help must have
Himself to save
And love to obtain.

Where for now we
That lovers be,
Let us now pray:
Once love sure
For to procure
Without denial.
Where love so sues
There no heart rues,
But condescend.
If contrary,
What remedy?
God it amend.

Though some say that youth rules me (Attributed)

Though some say that youth rules me,
I trust in age to tarry.
God and my right, and my duty,
From them shall I never vary,
Though some say that youth rules me.

I pray you all that aged be
How well did you your youth carry?
I think some worse of each degree.
Therein a wager lay dare I,
Though some say that youth rules me.

Pastimes of youth some time among
None can say but necessary.
I hurt no man, I do no wrong,
I love true where I did marry,
Though some say that youth rules me.

Then soon discuss that hence we must
Pray we to God and Saint Mary
That all amend, and here an end.
Thus says the King, the eighth Harry,
Though some say that youth rules me.

Who so that will for grace sue

Who so that will for grace sue,
His intent must needs be true,
And love her in heart and deed,
Else it were pity that he should speed.
Many one says that love is ill,
But those be they which know no skill.

Or else, because they may not obtain,
They would that others should it disdain.
But love is a thing given by God:
In that, therefore, can be none odd,
But perfect in deed, and between two.
Where fore, then, should we it eschew?

Lusty Youth should us ensue!

Lusty Youth should us ensue!
His merry heart shall sure all rue.
For whatsoever they do him tell
It is not for him, we know it well.

For they would have him his liberty refrain,
And all merry company for to disdain.
But I will not do whatsoever they say,
But follow his mind in all that we may.

How should youth himself best use
But all disdainers for to refuse?
Youth has as chief assurance
Honest mirth with virtue's pastance.

For in them consists great honour,
Though that disdainers would therein put error.
For they do sue to get them grace --
All only riches to purchase.

With good order, counsel, and equity,
Goode Lord grant us our mansion to be.
For without their good guidance
Youth should fall in great mischance.

For Youth is frail and prompt to do
As well vices as virtues to ensue.
Where fore by these he must be guided,
And virtues pastance must therein be used.

Now unto God this prayer we make,
That this rude play may well betake
And that we may our faults amend
And bliss obtain at our last end. Amen.

Let not us that young men be (possibly by Henry VIII)

Let not us that young men be
From Venus' ways banished to be, banished to be.
Though that Age with great disdain
Would have Youth love to refrain, love to refrain,
In their minds consider they must
How they did in their most lust.

For, if they were in like case
And would then have gotten grace,
They may not now than gainsay
That which then was most their joy.
Where for indeed, the truth to say,
It is for Youth the metest play.

R.G. Siemens, 1996-.
Last updated 31 July 2001 .