Since Singing is so good a thing…

A quote I mentioned on the November 13 program generated a lot of listener feedback and inquiry! It was #8 from William Byrd’s list of reasons to sing: The better the voyce is, the meeter it is to honour and serve God there-with : and the voyce of man is chiefely to bee imployed to that ende. [original spellings left intact]
People often tell me they listen to Sunday Baroque on their way to and from church, and a number of choir directors and choir members say they sing along as a warm up. What a great image! And here is a personal confession: I am “that person” who usually sings (and whistles) along with music. I’m happy to know I’m not the only one, and that Byrd’s reasons still hold practical meaning for us today.
Here is William Byrd’s complete list (Thanks to © 2008 Ben Byram-Wigfield.)
First, it is a knowledge easily taught, and quickly learned, where there is a good master,
and an apt scholar.
1 The exercise of singing is delightful to Nature, and good to preserve the health of Man.
2 it does strengthen all parts of the breast, and does open the pipes.
3 it is a singularly good remedy for stuttering and stammering in the speech.
4 it is the best means to procure perfect pronunciation, and to make a good Orator.
5 it is the only way to know where Nature has bestowed the benefit of a good voice:
which gift is so rare, as there is not one among a thousand that has it: and, in many,
that excellent gift is lost, because they want Art to express Nature.
6 There is not any Music of instruments whatsoever, comparable to that which is made
of the voices of Men, where the voices are good, and the same well sorted and ordered.
7 The better the voice is, the meeter it is to honour and serve God therewith:
and the voice of man is chiefly to be employed to that end.
Omnis spiritus laudet Dominum.
since singing is so good a thing,
i wish all men would learn to sing.

Psalmes, Sonets, & songs of sadnes and pietie (1588)
William Byrd (1542-1623)

Reasons, briefly set down by the Author,to persuade everyone to learn to sing.
© 2008 Ben Byram-Wigfield. May be freely distributed with permission

4 comments on “Since Singing is so good a thing…

    • Suzanne Bona on

      It’s the 8th reason on the list; you’ll notice it starts with “First …” then continues with #1.

  1. Jim Stovall on

    An excellent and interesting list. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    I’ve listened to Sunday Baroque for several years now. Before the feed was readily available, I would get up on Sunday morning and listen to as much of it as I could. Now, I am able to listen to the feed throughout the week. It’s become essential. Thanks for doing it — and doing it so well.

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