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And eke your realme shall florish styll,
No good thynge shall decaye,
These wordes recorde and faye :
Thy lyf, O kyng, to us doth shyne,
" As God's boke doth thee teache; " Thou doft us feede with such doctrine
“ As God's elect dyd preache.”
From this sample of his original vein, my reader will not perhaps hastily predetermine, that our author has communicated any considerable decorations to his Acts OF THE APOSTies in English verse. There is as much elegance and animation in the two following initial stanzas of the fourteenth chapter, as in any of the whole performance, which I shall therefore exhibit.
It chaunced in Iconium,
As they oft tymes did use,
The Sinagoge of Jues.
Doctor Tye's Acts of THE APOSTLES were sung for a time in the royal chapel of Edward the sixth. But they never became popular. The impropriety of the design, and the impotency of the execution, seem to have been perceived even by his own prejudiced and undiscerning age. This circumstance, however, had probably the fortunate and seasonable effect, of
turning Tye's musical studies to another and a more rational system: to the composition of words judiciously selected from the prose psalms in four or five parts. Before the middle of the reign of Elisabeth, at a time when the more ornamental and intricate music was wanted in our service, he concurred with the celebrated Tallis and a few others in setting several anthems, which are not only justly supposed to retain much of the original strain of our antient choral nielody before the reformation, but in respect of harmony, expression, contrivance, and general effect, are allowed to be perfect models of the genuine ecclefiastic style. Fuller informs us, that Tye was the chief restorer of the loss which the music of the church had sustained by the destruction of the monasteries“. Tye also appears to have been a translator of Italian. The History of Naftagia and Traversari tranpated out of Italian into English by C. T. perhaps Christopher Tye, was printed at London in 1569.
It is not my intention to pursue any farther the mob of religious rhymers, who, from principles of the most unfeigned piety, devoutly laboured to darken the lustre, and enervate the force, of the divine pages. And perhaps I have been already too prolix in examining a species of poetry, if it may be so called, which even impoverishes prose; or rather, by mixing the stile of profe with verse, and of verse with prose, destroys
WORTHIES, ii. 244. Tallis here mentioned, at the beginning of the reign of Elisabeth, and by proper authority, enriched the inusic of Marbeck's liturgy. He set to music the Te Deum, BENEDICTUS, MAGNIFICAT, NUNC DIMITTIS, and other offices, to which Marbeck had given only the canto firmo, or plain chant. He composed a new Litany still in use; and improved the fimpler modulation of Marbeck's 'Suffrages, Kyries after the Commandments, and other versicles, as they are sung at present. There are two chants of Tallis, one to the VENITE Ex. ULTEMUS, and another to the Athanafian Creed.
• In duodecimo.--I had almost forgot to observe, that John Mardiley, cerk of the king's Mint, called Suffolk-house in Southwark, translated twenty-four of David's Psalms into English verse, about 1550. He wrote also Religious Hymns. Bale, par. poft. p. 106. There is extant his Complaint against the fiffnecked papist
. in versey Lond. by T. Raynold, 1548. 8vo. And, a Short Refytal of certyne holie do&tors, against the real presence, collected in myter (metre] by John Mardiley. Lond. 12mo. See another of his pieces on the same subject, and in rhyme, presented and dedicated to queen Elisabeth, MSS. REG. 17 B. xxxvii. The Protector Somerset was his patron.
the character and effect of both. But in surveying the general course of a species of literature, absurdities as well as excellencies, the weakness and the vigour of the human mind, must have their historian. Nor is it unpleasing to trace and to contemplate those strange incongruities, and false ideas of perfection, which at various times, either affectation, or caprice, or fashion, or opinion, or prejudice, or ignorance, or enthusiasm, present to the conceptions of men, in the shape of truth.
I must not, however, forget, that king Edward the sixth is to be ranked among the religious poets of his own reign. Fox has published his metrical instructions concerning the eucharist, addressed to fir Antony Saint Leger. Bale also mentions his comedy called the WHORE OF BABYLON, which Holland the heroologist, who perhaps had never seen it, and knew not whether it was a play or a ballad, in verse or prose, pronounces to be a most elegant performance'. Its elegance, with some, will not perhaps apologise or atone for its subject: and it may seem strange, that controversial ribaldry should have been suffered to enter into the education of a great monarch. But the genius, habits, and situation, of his age should be considered. The reformation was the great political topic of Edward's court. Intricate discussions in divinity were no longer confined to the schools or the clergy. The new religion, from its novelty, as well as importance, interested every mind, and was almost the sole object of the general attention. Men emancipated from the severities of a spiritual tyranny, reflected with horror on the slavery they had so long suffered, and with exultation on the triumph they had obtained. These feelings were often expressed in a strain of enthusiasm. The spirit of innovation, which had seized the times, often transgressed the bounds of truth. Every change of religion is attended with those ebullitions, which growing more moderate by degrees, afterwards appear eccentric and ridiculous.
f HEROOLOG. P. 27
We who live at a distance from this great and national ftruggle between popery and protestantism, when our church has been long and peaceably established, and in an age of good sense, of politeness and philosophy, are apt to view thefe effusions of royal piety as weak and unworthy the character of a king. But an ostentation of zeal and example in the young Edward, as it was natural so it was necessary, while the reformation was yet immature. It was the duty of his preceptors, to impress on his tender years, an abhorrence of the principles of Rome, and a predilection to that happy system which now seemed likely to prevail. His early diligence, his inclination to letters, and his seriousness of disposition, seconded their active endeavours to cultivate and to bias his mind in favour of the new theology, which was now become the fashionable knowledge. These and other amiable virtues his cotemporaries have given young Edward in an eminent degree. But it may be presumed, that the partiality which youth always commands, the specious prospects excited by expectation, and the flattering promises of religious liberty secured to a distant posterity, have had some small share in dictating his panegyric.
The new settlement of religion, by counteracting inveterate prejudices of the most interesting nature, by throwing the clergy into a state of contention, and by diffeminating theological opinions among the people, excited so general a ferment, that even the popular ballads and the stage, were made the vehicles of the controversy between the papal and protestant communions s.
The Ballad of Luther, the Pope, a CARDINAL, and a HUSBANDMAN, written in 1550, in defence of the reformation, has fome spirit, and supports a degree of character in the speakers. There is another written about the fame time, which is a lively satire on the English Bible, the vernacular liturgy, and the book of homilies. The measure of the last is that of
& See instances already given, before the Reformation had actually taken place,
fupr. p. 144.
See Persy Ball, ii, 102.
Pierce PLOWMAN, with the addition of rhyme : a sort of
Strype has printed a poem called the Pore Help, of the
In the year 1547, a proclamation was published to prohibit preaching. This was a temporary expedient to suppress the turbulent harangues of the catholic minifters, who still composed no small part of the parochial clergy : for the court of augmentations took care perpetually to supply the vacant benefices with the disincorporated monks, in order to exonerate the exchequer from the payment of their annuities. These men, both from inclination and interest, and hoping to restore the church to its antient orthodoxy and opulence, exerted all their powers of declamation in combating the doctrines of protestan