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Why Learne to Sing?
Preface to “Psalms, Sonets, and Songs of Sadnes and Pietie” (1588) by William Byrd (1543[?]-1623)
Reasons briefly set down by th’author, to perswade every one to learne to sing.
First, it is a knowledge safely taught and quickly learned, where there is a good Master, and an apt Scholler.
2 The exercise of singing is delightfull to Nature, & good to preserve the health of Man.
3 It doth strengthen all parts of the brest, & doth open the pipes.
4 It is a singular good remedie for a stutting and stamering in the speech.
5 It is the best means to procure a perfect pronounciation, & to make a good Orator.
6 It is the onely way to know where Nature hath bestowed the benefit of a good voyce : which guift is so rare, as there is not one among a thousand, that hath it.
7 There is not any Musicke of Instruments whatsoever, comparable to that which is made of the voyces of Men, where the voyces are good, and the same well sorted and ordered.
8 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.
“Omnis Spiritus Laudes Dominum”
Since Singing is so good a thing, I wish all men would learn to sing.
The original spelling, line breaks, and punctuation are carefully preserved here, except for the occasional use of “f” for “s” and “u” for “v” (e.g. “ferue” = “serve”). Transcribed from the original, by David Gordon.