All as a sea (William Byrd)

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  • (Posted 2022-11-11)  CPDL #71519:        (LilyPond)
Editor: Allen Garvin (submitted 2022-11-11).   Score information: Letter, 3 pages, 55 kB   Copyright: CC BY NC
Edition notes: Spelling modernized. All verses set for the first singing part.
  • (Posted 2017-05-06)  CPDL #44402:   
Editor: Adrian Wall (submitted 2017-05-06).   Score information: A4, 8 pages, 1.54 MB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes: All three verses set to music.
  • (Posted 2003-07-16)  CPDL #05340:        (Sibelius 4)
Editor: David Fraser (submitted 2003-07-16).   Score information: A4, 4 pages, 90 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Revised August 2021 (minor formatting).

General Information

Title: All as a sea
Composer: William Byrd

Number of voices: 5vv   Voicing: SATTB
Genre: SecularPartsong

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 1588 in Psalmes, Sonnets and Songs, no. 28

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

Al as a Sea, the world no other is,
our selves are ships still tossed to & fro,
and loe, each man, his love to that or this,
is like a storme, that drives the ship to goe,
that thus our life in doubt of shipwrack stands,
our wils the rocks, our want of skill the sands.

Our passions be Pirates still that spoyle,
and overboard cast’s out our reasons fraight:
the Marriners that day and night doe toyle,
bee our conceits that doe on pleasure waight:
pleasure Master doth tirannize the Ship,
and giveth Vertue secretly the nip.

The compasse is a minde to compasse all,
both pleasure, profit, place and fame, for naught:
the windes that blow men overweening call,
the Merchandise is wit full deerely bought:
tryal the Anker cast upon experience,
for labor, lyfe and all a doe the recompence.