Whann Battayle smethinge (John Wall Callcott)

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Editor: Christopher Shaw (submitted 2023-09-12).   Score information: A4, 4 pages, 193 kB   Copyright: CC BY SA
Edition notes: Please click on the link for preview/playback/PDF download.
  • (Posted 2008-04-13)  CPDL #16597:        (Sibelius 5)
Editor: Jonathan Goodliffe (submitted 2008-04-13).   Score information: A4, 5 pages, 60 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Dynamics have been modernised and original spelling of poem by Chatterton restored.

General Information

Title: Whann Battayle smethinge
Composer: John Wall Callcott
Lyricist: Thomas Chatterton (1752 – 1770)

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: ATTB
Genre: SecularGlee

Language: Middle English
Instruments: A cappella (originally). Piano accompaniment added by William Horsley (1774-1858).

First published: 1788 Warren's twenty-sixth collection
First published: 1824 Horsley (memorial edition)
Description:  Winner of a Catch Club Prize Medal, 1787. Callcott had submitted over an hundred compositions for consideration that year; a fecundity which spurred the Catch Club to impose a limit of three entries by each composer in the following year. Chatterton's authorship of this supposedly mediaeval text had been established only very recently.

External websites:

Original text and translations

Middle_English.png Middle English text

From “The Tournament, an interlude”, by Thomas Chatterton (1752-1770),
lines 161-168 and 173-176


Whann Battayle, smethynge1 wythe new quickenn'd gore,
Bendynge wythe spoiles, and bloddie droppynge hedde,
Dydd the merke2 woode of ethe3 and rest explore,
Seekeynge to lie onn Pleasures downie bedde,

Pleasure, dauncyng fromm her wode,
Wreathedd wythe floures of aiglintine,
Fromm hys vysage washedd the bloude,
Hylte4 hys swerde and gaberdyne.

[ Wythe syke an eyne shee swotelie5 hymm dydd view, ]
[ Dydd foe ycorvenn6 everrie shape to joie, ]
[ Hys spryte dydd chaunge untoe anodherr hue, ]
[ Hys armes, ne spoyles, mote anie thoughts emploie. ]

All delyghtsomme and contente,
Fyre enshotynge7 fromm hys eyne,
Ynn hys arms hee dydd herr hente8,
Lyche the merk9-plante doe entwyne.

[ Soe, gyff thou lovest Pleasure and herr trayne, ]
[ Onknowlachynge10 ynn whatt place herr to fynde, ]
[ Thys rule yspende11, and ynn thie mynde retayne; ]
[ Seeke Honnoure fyrste, and Pleasaunce lies behynde. ]

Note: Bracketed text not part of the musical setting

  1 smoaking, steaming
  2 dark, gloomy
  3 ease
  4 hid, secreted
  5 sweetly
  6 moulded
  7 shooting, darting
  8 grasp, hold
  9 night-shade
10 ignorant, unknowing
11 consider