When not changing wives
Henry the Eighth took time to
Write some jolly songs.
Did you know Henry VIII of England was a songwriter?
He was also an accomplished musician, playing the lute, keyboards (including organ), recorder, flute, and harp. He is also said to have been a good singer.1 He amassed a fine collection of musical instruments as well.2
You can see a manuscript containing some of the songs of Henry VIII, as well as those by other notable composers of the time (including William Cornish) at the website of the British Library. The manuscript contains vocal and instrumental pieces. You can read about the contents of the book here. Here is a viewer where you can see digital images of the pages of the book. Instrumental music is at the front, vocal music (with words) at the back of the book.
At the Luminarium.org website you can find a list of the songs of Henry VIII with words, sheet music, and in a few cases, recordings.
And now, Henry’s most well-known song, Pastime with Good Company.
- “Tudor Tunes: Music at the Courts of Henry VII, Elizabeth I, and James VI and I” by Emma Mason, http://www.historyextra.com/article/anne-boleyn/tudor-tunes-music-courts-henry-viii-elizabeth-i-and-james-vi-and-i
- “Inventory of Henry VIII of England” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inventory_of_Henry_VIII_of_England
Image attribution: Portrait of Henry VIII by Joos van Cleve (around 1530) [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1491_Henry_VIII.jpg