‘Pastyme with Good Companye’

The Coat of Arms of Henry VIII of England (1509-1547)

I felt like sharing this composition by Henry VIII of England. He wrote this song not long after he ascended to the throne. The English court during the early years of Henry VIII’s reign was extravagant, there were frequent banquets and outdoor activities held at the court.

Henry VIII himself was a skilled sportsman when he was a young man.  However, the development of varicose ulcers and a bad jousting accident when he was 44 years of age made him become less mobile. This is why he ended up becoming obese, since he had a huge appetite and he probably also fell into the bad habit comfort eating because of his melancholy.

This song praises the extravagant entertainment that was enjoyed by the court but it also provides a moral justification for this extravagance. Company is preferable over idleness, for idleness breeds vice. I think there is some wisdom in that.

 

Original (Early Modern English) Modern English
Passetyme with gude companye, Pastime with good company
I love, and shall until I dye. I love & shall until I die
Gruch who wyll, but none deny, grudge who lust but none deny
So God be pleeyd, thus lyfe wyll I. so god be pleased thus live will I
For my pastaunce: for my pastance
Hunt, syng, and daunce, hunt sing & dance
My hert ys sett! my heart is set
All gudely sport, all goodly sport
Fore my comfort, for my comfort
Who shall me lett? who shall me let
Youth wyll have nedes dalyaunce, youth must have some dalliance
Of gude or yll some pastaunce, of good or ill some pastance
Companye me thynketh them best, Company me thinks then best
All thouts and fansyes to dygest. all thoughts & fancies to digest.
For ydleness, for Idleness
Ys chef mastres is chief mistress
Of vyces all: of vices all
Than who can say, then who can say.
But myrth and play but mirth and play
Ys best of all? is best of all.
Companye with honeste, Company with honesty
Ys vertu, vyce to flee. is virtue vice to flee.
Companye ys gude or yll, Company is good & ill
But ev’ry man hath hys frewylle. but every man has his free will.
The best ensyue, the best ensue
The worst eschew, the worst eschew
My mynd shall be: my mind shall be.
Vertue to use, virtue to use
Vyce to refuse, vice to refuse
Thus shall I use me! thus shall I use me.

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