O that most rare breast (William Byrd)

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  • (Posted 2003-03-23)  CPDL #04674:        (Sibelius 4)
Editor: David Fraser (submitted 2003-03-23).   Score information: A4, 12 pages, 210 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Revised March 2008.

General Information

Title: O that most rare breast
Composer: William Byrd
Lyricist: Thomas Watson or Sir Edward Dyer

Number of voices: 5vv   Voicing: SATTB

Genre: SecularPartsong

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella

 Manuscript 1580 in Dow Partbooks, no. 60
First published: 1588 in Psalmes, sonnets and songs, no. 35

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

O that most rare brest, christaline sincere,
through which like gold thy princely heart did shine,
O sprite heroic, O valiant worthie knight,
O Sidney, prince of fame & mens good will.
For thee both kings & princesses doe morne,
thy noble Tombe, three Cities strange desird,
Foes to the cause thy prowes did defend,
beewayle the day that crost thy famous race.
The dolefull debt due to thy hearse I pay,
tears from the soule, that aye thy want shall moane,
and by my will my life it selfe would yeeld,
if heathen blame ne might, my faith disdaine:
O heavie time, that my daies draw behind thee,
thou dead dost live, thy friend here living dieth.