1. The Praise of Musicke is a short anonymous work in English published by Joseph Barnes in 1586. It is available as a electronic transcript made by Heidi Beckwith for the Texts on Music in English from the Medieval and Early Modern Eras database of the University of Indiana, available here, also as 2002 edition by Ben Byram-Wigfield, available in electronic form here and simultaneously available in printed form here. The problem concerning this work that is perennially debated is its authorship.
2. Over the years, many have tentatively ascribed The Praise of Musicke to the Oxford Aristotelian John Case [d. 1600]. But, as we are about to see, this view is far from unanimous. NOTE 1 There are two problems. First, if Case wrote it, why did he not put his name on the title page or claim it as his own in later life? The second is that in 1588 Case wrote and published (under his own name) a Latin treatise on music, Apologia Musices tam Vocals Quam Instrumentalis et Mixtae. The basic thrust of both treatises is the same: a defense of music in general, and more specifically the elaborate music used in the Church of England, against Puritan attack. NOTE 2 Yet, in addition to the languages in which they are written, there are significant differences between these two works, and, although a couple of contemporary writers understood that the Praise was by Case, some modern scholars have discovered what they think is internal evidence in the Praise, or discrepancies between it and the Apologia, that in their view exclude attribution to Case.
3. Two writers of the time, one a contemporary of Case and the other a near-contemporary, thought that the work was his. A poem A Gratification unto Mr. John Case, for his Learned Booke Lately Made in the Prayes of Musick, was written by Thomas Watson, preserved in several sources, and a setting of this poem by William Byrd was printed as a broadside in 1589. NOTE 3 Additionally, it is in effect attributed to Case by Thomas Ravenscroft in his 1614 A briefe discourse of the true (but neglected) use of charactering the degrees by their perfection, Imperfection, and diminution in measurable musicke, against the common practise and custome of these times, who quotes a translation of some lines from Horace found in The Praise of Musicke and explicitly attributes them to Case in a sidenote (fol. PP1r).
4. Some modern scholars nonetheless do not accept this attribution. In his 1990 discussion of the authorship question J. W. Binns was correct to point out that the Apologia is scarcely a straightforward Latin translation of In Praise of Musicke. Quite to the contrary, they are independent treatises, arguing somewhat different points and aimed (as their respective languages suggest) at different audiences. The primary thrust of both works is to argue the legitimacy of music (including music of a complex and contrapuntal variety, “pricksong”) in the church, but The Praise of Musicke is largely devoted to compiling legitimizing citations from Scripture and the Church Fathers, whereas the Apologia includes more elaborate theorizing about the nature and effect of music, and is considerably more concerned with defending the use of instrumental music, particularly of the organ. Being written in Latin for an academic audience, the Apologia is in certain ways more learned (for example in its explanation on how music affects the mind, described in terms of contemporary physiological theory, in Chapter iv) and it exhibits a more formal and syllogistic method of argumentation, particularly in the series of objections and responses in Chapter vii, which are exactly like those in Case’s Aristotle commentaries. The Praise of Musicke also has a section devoted to possible objections to the author’s argument and his rebuttals (chapter xii), a favorite move of Case, but it is written in a more informal manner calculated to appeal to laymen without philosophical training. Then too, the Apologia contains both an element of religious mysticism and passages of exalted rhetoric that will be familiar to readers of Case’s philosophical works, but that find no parallels in The Praise of Musicke.
4. Arguments against attribution to Case supposedly based on internal evidence are easy to dismiss. The primary one that has been used to exclude the possibility that Case was responsible for the former is a remark in the dedicatory epistle addressed to Sir Walter Raleigh by Barnes the printer:
For which cause I request your worship in al humility to become a patrone of this smal work, worthy to be taken into your hand when your worship shall haue any respit from your weightier affaires, and pleasant to be read, because it is an Orphan of one of Lady Musickes children.
This passage has led Binns, Byram-Wigfield and others to conclude that the author of The Praise of Musicke was someone who had died before its appearance in print. But “orphan” may be used figuratively because, by publishing it anonymously its author had, so to speak, disowned it and sent it forth into the world in a fatherless condition.
5. Other than Barnes’ “orphan” remark, the only other internal evidence in the treatise that conceivably tells against Case’s authorship is a claim by its author in the initial Preface to the Reader:
I willingly confesse vnto thee, that I am glad I haue some skill in musicke, which is so sweete, so good, so vertuous, so comely a matrone among other artes.
In the introduction to his 2002 edition Mr. Byram-Wigfield coupled this with another remark towards the end of the work (xi.5):So that I thus far agree with the greatest adversaries of our profession that I would not admit any other matter than is contained in the written word of God, or consonable thereunto.
His conclusion: “I would therefore suggest that the author is a church musician, connected to Oxford, who died shortly before 1586. The records of the college choirs would be a good place to start in search of likely candidates.” But it is worth pointing out the ambiguity of the words “our profession”: do they mean “men of our trade” or “men of our persuasion”? So this argument does not necessarily warrant the conclusion that the author was a professional musician. For aught we know to the contrary, Case may have been a reasonably accomplished amateur musician possessed of “some skill in music,” although in an Oxonian context one suspects these words may actually be an assertion of familiarity with the kind of philosophical theory about music purveyed by Boethius. NOTE 4 For these reasons, The Praise of Musicke does not seem to contain any internal evidence that excludes the possibility that Case was its author.
6. Nor (despite Binns, 1974 pp. 444f.) can a serious argument against Case’s authorship be based on the allusion to The Praise of Musicke in his 1588 Sphaera Civitatis (VIII.iii.5):
O ter beatam civitatem in qua pueri et adolescentes sic discunt canere! Qui plura de hac re velint discere legant Boetheium, si vero sint Angli, legant doctum libellum nuper Oxonii natum et impressum, in quo de antiqua dignitate musices usuque politico et ecclesiastico eiusdem agitur.
[“Oh thrice blessed commonwealth in which boys and young men thus learn to sing! Those who wish to learn more about this thing may read Boethius; but if they be English, let them read that learned pamphlet lately produced and printed at Oxford, in which is handled the ancient dignity of music, and its political and ecclesiastical usefulness.”]
Binn’s verdict is “It is then clear beyond a reasonable doubt that Case cannot be the author of ‘The Praise of Musicke,’ for he would hardly speak of his own work in such terms, praising the book as he does for its learning.” Such a conclusion would only be possible if you are willing to suppose that Case was entirely devoid of a sense of humor, and not capable of relieving the seriousness of a learned commentary on Aristotle’s Politics with an “in-joke” for the benefit of those readers privy to the secret that he himself was the author of the learned pamphlet in question.
7. As it happens, Case’s mention of The Praise of Musicke in Sphaera Civitatis appears not to be the only place in that work where he refers to something by himself impersonally, without giving away the secret that it is his own work. At VIII.vii.4 he writes:
Sed ut haec omnia concludam, non male scripsit ille, quicunque Musicam sic de seipisa versibus loquentem finxit,
[“But to conclude this all, he did not write amiss who represented Music speaking of herself in verses: I conquer, I bend, I rule dire things, bloody things, savage men, the monsters of Hell, by song, by sweetness, by the plectrum. I relieve the languid, I arouse the moribund, I uplift the sad, I fortify the fearful, I overcome the gods.”]
Roger Harmon has given cogent arguments for thinking these verses are by Case himself. NOTE 5 If so, here too the same comic maneuver of covertly referring himself as if he were someone else is visible.
8. Returning to Mr. Byram-Wigfield’s idea that Praise was written by some Oxford professional musician — but whom? — it seems intrinsically more probable that, if this work were not by Case himself, it came out of the same literary circle to which he belonged, consisting of Anglican loyalists who mostly seem to have been under the personal spell of Sir Philip Sidney, and on both scores were dead set against Puritanism and not behindhand in placing their sentiments on the public record. This circle consisted of easily identifiable men, since they were forever writing liminary verses for each others’ books, usually printed by Barnes: its principal members were Matthew Gwinne and Richard Latewar of Case’s own St. John’s College, and William Gager, Richard Eedes, and Alberico Gentili of Christ Church. Of these, Gwinne was the only one to display any visible interest in music. His own 1582 In Laudem Musices Oratio is also presented in The Philological Museum, and this contains a spirited defense of music against Stephan Gosson’s puritannical attack in the course of his 1579 The Schoole of Abuse, the work which is often thought to have provoked the writing of the Sidney’s Defense of Poetry. At first sight, therefore Gwinne might look like a plausible alternative candidate as the author of Praise, but at the beginning of his lecture he frankly acknowledges that, as a means of finding him financial aid, the university authorities appointed him to a Lecturership in Music, although, as he candidly confesses, this was a subject of which he was entirely ignorant. This scarcely squares with our present author’s assertion that “I willingly confesse vnto thee, that I am glad I haue some skill in musicke,” and this entirely rules Gwinne out of court. Quite simply, nobody has ever suggested a plausible alternative to Case as an author.
9. A different kind of argument against Case’s authorship of Praise was made by Falcolner Madan (whose points were repeated by Binns in his 1974 article), based on the different approaches and discrepancies between Praise and Apologia. A large number of these points can be discounted simply by observing that these treatises are works intended for the consumption of different audiences. Praise is clearly designed for a wide audience of “interested laymen,” as is shown by the fact that, although it contains Latin and even Greek quotations, its author was careful to supply English translations of them. It is larded with anecdotes and mythological ornamentation, and largely goes about the business of justifying music by bombarding the reader with quotations from Scripture and the Church Fathers. Apologia, on the other hand, is written for the benefit of the Oxford community and largely (and even, once or twice, even rather dismissively) eschews such stuff in favor of a more theoretical approach, appropriate for a reader with philosophical training. In considering Madan’s rather lengthy list of detailed discrepancies, we should ask whether we are being presented with actual evidence telling against Case’s authorship, or rather with different material that a single author thought appropriate for two very different kinds of reader. Then too, some differences between the two treatises might be explicable by the thought that, by the time he wrote Apologia, Case had enjoyed the benefit of two more years’ worth of reading and thinking.
1o. Deserving to be cast in the balance against the anti-Case arguments is an large number of passages of Praise, consisting of either arguments or supporting exempla, that distinctly resemble equivalent passages in Apologia, and it is worth listing them. NOTE 6
Apologia Dedicatory Epistle Res sic se habet. Sonus rex ille Harmoniae duas uxores habuit, nempe Grammaticam, ex qua Accentum, et nympham Musicam, ex qua Concentum genuit. Primus ille natu, nimirum Accentus, gravis fuit et eloquens, sed austerus et minus dilectus populo, minor vero natu, scilicet Concentus, forma amabilis, voce dulcis, affabilis sermone, consortio gratus et iucundus extitit. Horum iam pater senex moritur, suumque regnumque utrique ut Misypsa suis dedit. Stomachatur maior, partem regni negat, sibi totum iure ut prior natu et haeres vendicat, senatus cogitur, convocantur musici, poetae, oratores, philosophi, sanctique etiam antistites et theologi. Hii omnes suadent ut seposito fraterno odio aequam uterque partem imperii teneant. Accentus quasi Ferrex Britannis furit, iubetque ut frater Concentus cum sua matre Musica a senatu, foro, theatro, templo tanquam capitalis hostis arceatur. At frater favore populi causaeque aequitate fretus certamen cum fratre postulat, Fama statim sonabat tubam, armati in campum prosiliunt fratres, pugnatur, sed neuter Iove favente cadit. Ambo nunc usque defatigati pugna a campo in eremum veniunt, uterque cum matre apparent mihi, iudices et moderatores quaerunt.
Praise iii.2 Sonus, say they, the king of Harmony had two sonnes. The one of them was called Concentus, the other Accentus: of Grammatica he begat Accentus, but Concentus was born vnto him of the nymphe Musica. Whem when their father perceiued to be both equal in the gifts of the minde, and that neither was inferior to other in any kind of knowledge, and himself now well striken in yeares to waxe euery day neerer and neerer to his death: hee fell into a serious cogitation with himself, whether of them two, hee should leaue his successour in his kingdome: and therefore hee began more narrowly to marke the maners and behauiours of them both: nowe Accentus was the elder of the two: and hee was graue and eloquent, but austere, and therefore lesse beloued of the people: But Concentus was verie merrie, pleasaunt, amiable, louelie, curteous, acceptable vnto all menne, and cleane contrarie to the disposition of his brother, thinking it more glorious to be beloued than feared. Whereby hee did not only get the loue and liking of all his Subiectes, but also putte his Father into a greater doubt which of them hee shoulde institute inheritour of his Scepter. Therefore appointing a solemne meeting, hee asked the Counsell of the Nobles and Princes of his Lande, as Musitians, Poettes, Oratours, Philosophers and Diuines: and in conclusion their consultation had this issue, that neyther shoulde be preferred before other, but both shoulde equally inherite their Fathers Scepter and Dominions. Whereof I gather (omitting all other circumstaunces) that as Accentus which is Grammar ought not to be disinherited, because of the necessitie thereof in speech: so Concentus which is Musicke, coulde not but bee esteemed as woorthie of preheminence, for his pleasure and delectation. NOTE 6
Apologia i.3 Sed (ut ait Agrippa) bestiae, serpentes, volucres auditu musices delectantur, quippe alliciuntur aves cantu, fistulis capiuntur cervi, modulis elephanti et delphines permoventur.
Praise iii.7 So, as Martianus records, certain fishes in the pool of Alexandria are with the noise of instruments enticed to the bank’s side, offering themselves to men’s hands, so long as the melody endures. [But the sidenote cites passages about dolphins.]
Apologia i.3 Dic ergo mihi, Antea, dic mihi, Myda,qui equorum hinnitu et rustico stridore magis quam Apollinis Musa aures animosque vestros moveri dicitis, quid vos offendit musica?
Praise ii.5 If Anteas the Scythian, at the singing of Ismenias the Theban, for want of better gods, swear by the wind and his falchion that he had rather hear the neighing of an horse than the singing of Isemenias, let his words, as they are indeed so, go but for wind.
Apologia i.3 Eandem fortasse ut lenociniorum clientulam accusatis. At Agamemnon Clytemnestrae ut pudicitiae custodem iunxit.
Praise ii.1 Who in better fauor with Agamemnon than Demodochus to whom hee committed his wife Clitemnestra for the time of his long and unfortunat voiage?
Apologia iii.2 Sed ordine de singulis agamus.In primo genere sunt agricolae, milites, artifices, qui immensis laboribus, gravissimis vitae periculis, magnis negotiis et operibus civitatis fracti cito contabescerent si nullo solatio vitae recreati ad rastrum, ad Martem, ad opus redire allicerentur.
Praise iii.5 And hence it is, that manual labourers, and Mechanicall artificers of all sorts, keepe such a chaunting and singing in their shoppes, the Tailor on his bulk, the Shomaker at his last, the Mason at his wal, the shipboy at his oare, the Tinker at his pan, and the Tylor on the house top.
Apologia iv.3 Proprietas musices est divino quodam impetu animi vires invadere, easdemque non aliter quam nervos et chordas lyrae aut alterius instrumenti eodem quo editur motu et affectu pulsare.
Praise x.3 And surely this his saying is proved by experience. For as even we witness unto ourselves that if we strike only one string of any instrument, the rest of that tone also gives a certain kind of sound, as if the striking of one pertained to them all.
Apologia iv.3 Ratio est quia ad numeros vocibus incitatur aer atque in principia sentiendi placide receptus, cordis ac mentis tum vitales tum animales spirtus, qui sunt vehicula animi, movet, ipsumque animum variis affectibus pro ratione modulationis flectit, concutit et impellit. Nam aliter quomodo Timotheus Milesius ille insignis musicus Alexandrum nunc ad furorem, nunc ad clementiam traheret?
Praise iv.5 - 6 But a most manifest proof hereof is that which is said of Alexander the Great, who, sitting at a banquet amongst his friends, was nevertheless by the excellent skill of Timotheus, a famous musician, so inflamed with the fury of modus Orthius, or as some say, of Dorius, that he called for his spear and target, as if he would presently have addressed himself to war. Neither is this a more apparent proof for this part than that which followed is for the next: the same Timotheus, seeing Alexander thus incensed, only with the changing of a note, pacified this mood of his, and as it were with a more mild sound mollified and assuaged his former violence.
Apologia iv.3 quod Taurominitanum iuvenem ad aedes meretricis inflammandas incitarit Phrygio, a comburendis aedibus spondeo retraxerit,
Praise iv.5 To this purpose serueth also that which is recorded of a certaine yong man of Taurominum, which reporteth, was incited with the sounde of Modus Phrygius, to set a fier an house, wherein a harlot was intertained.
Apologia iv.6 Concidissent Spartiatae nisi in pace Terpandrus morbo affectis in bello Tyrtaeus in fugam coniectis, ille salutem pristinam, hic consternatis animos reddidisset.
Praise ii.2 What need I add water to the sea, and after all these speak of Terpander in a dangerous tumult of the Lacedaemonians, appointed by the Oracle and required by the country to appease their uproars?
Apologia iv.7 Ab effectis, quia musica nos laetari bonis et dolere contrariis docet. Aegisthus adulter ille Clytemnestra non prius potitus fuit quam cytharoedus relictus illi custos confossus periit, istiusmodi vero effecta ex reliquis sensibus nullus omnino parit.
Praise iv.3 Whereupon it is recorded that as long a Demodocus lived, Clytemnestra remained faithful to her husband; but when Aegistus for that purpose had murdered him, she gave over herself to satisfy his adulterous appetite.
Apologia v.1 Nam Iubal instrumenta musica invenit.
Praise i.12 But to leaue al other historiographers dissenting some of them far in opinions that historie which indeed is the witnes of times and light of the trueth written by the finger of God sets downe Iubal sonne of Lamech and Ada to be the Father of all such as handle harpe and instruments.
Apologia v.1 Christus et apostoli post sacram coenam ante ascensum in montem hymnum (ut Matthaeus scribit) cecinerunt.
Praise ix.4 yea euen our sauiour Christ vsed this diuine exercise, for when he had eaten the passouer with his disciples, Saint Mathew addeth,and when he had song a psalme they went out into the mount of Oliues.
Apologia v.1 Quod hinc liquido patet, nam Plinuis Secundus in epistola ad Traianum scribens de Christianis sic ait. “Haec fuit summa vel culpae vel erroris eorum quod essent soliti ante lucem convenire, carmenque Christo suo quasi deo canere.”
Praise ix.4 Pliny, in an epistle he writes to Trajan the emperor, (whilst Saint John was living) testifies that it was the custom of the Christians to sing hymns unto their Christ in their assemblies before day: for they could not freely come together by day for the persecutions that then raged against them.
Apologia v.i Vincam si addam d. Ignatium divi Iohannis apostoli disciplulum tertium post divum Petrum Antiochenae ecclesiae episcopum, qui audivit choros angelorum antiphonas sanctae trinitatis decantantium, ideoque instituit inter psalmos easdem decantari.
Praise ix.5 Theodoret reporteth that Flauianus and Diodorus ordayned in the Church of Antioch that the Psalmes of Dauid shoulde bee song interchangeably by a quire of singing men, diuided into partes, first at the monumentes of Martyrs, and afterwards in the Church, et hortabantur, sayeth hee, socios sui ministerij vt in Ecclesia sanctissimum Dominum nostrum hymnis celebrarent, And they exhorted their fellowe Ministers, to prayse their holie Lorde Christ, with hymnes and songes.
Apologia v.i Possum hic etiam (ut non solum de vocali sed etiam de organica et instrumentali musica agam) introducere et nominare doctissimum Vitalianum pontificem Romanum, qui annis hinc circiter noningenta cantum vocalem scientissime composuit, et cum organis harmonice in ecclesia consonare docuit.
Praise ix.16 Pontianus likewise the sixt bishop of Rome, which was long before Saint Ambrose, ordayned, that in all churches psalms should bee song night and day, as Fasciculus temporum hath obserued.
Apologia v.2 Non dicam Augustinum eadem similitudine laudabilem usum musices nobis in ecclesia commendasse, non dicam illum, ut in libro Confessionum scribit ,suavitate cantantium in ecclesia ad lachrymas saepe, spirituque tantem per cantum in illius animum illapso, ex Manichaeo ad Christianae fidei professionem fuisse impulsum.
Praise ix.6 And yet neuertheles Saint Austen calling to mind, how wonderfully himselfe had been moued with the singing of the church at his conuersion to the faith.
Apologia vi.6 Hinc olim imperatores, reges, gentes ac nationes summos honores peritis musicorum instrumentorum tribuerunt. Quid opus est exemplis? Periander rex Corinthiorum Arionem, Hieron rex Siciliae Symonidem, Alexander ille magnus Timotheum, Agamemnon Demodocum,Iulius Caesar Hermoginem, Vespasianus Diodorum; inter gentes Aegyptii Mercurium, Lacedaemonii Terpandrum, Graeci Ismeniam.
Praise ii.2 Who was more accepted of Periander King of Corinth than Arion? of Hieron King of Sicil than Simonides? of Perdicchas than Menalippides? of Alexander the great than Timotheus and Zenophontus who could make him both giue an alarum, and sound retrait at their pleasures? Who in better fauor with Agamemnon than Demodochus to whom hee committed his wife Clitemnestra for the time of his long and unfortunat voiage? with Themistocles than Exicles whom he made his daily and housholde guest? with M. Antonius than Anaxenor to whom he gaue the tribute of four Cities? with Iulius Caesar than Hermogenes? with Nero than Ferionus? with Vespasian than Diodorus? with Galba than Canus? Who more tendered of Aristratus king of Sycion than Thelestus, whom he countenanced being aliue with al kinde of preferment, and honoured being dead with a costly monument?
Apologia vi.10 Praeterea de Davide nota est historia cum coram Saule, quando a spiritu domini malo exagitabatur, cythara luderet, quod harmonia malignum spiritum repulerit. Quae harmonia non modo aures regis Saulis feriebat, sed animum quoque eius afficiebat ut a malo spiritu ad tempus liberatus et quietus esset.
Praise iv.9 It is also a present remedy against evil spirits, which, as it is proved by that one example of Saul, from whom the evil spirit departed when David played on his harp, so having so sufficient authority for the confirmation thereof, I shall not need to stand upon it any longer.
Apologia vii.6 Chirographum novi testamenti non video quo mandatur, exemplum tamen et consilium quibus laudatur video: exemplum Christi qui hymnum post coenam dixit, consilium Pauli et Iacobi, qui nos ad modulationem hortantur.
Praise xii.11 Secondly, they urge us that because pricksong is not verbally nor literally commanded in the Gospel, it may not therefore be allowed. Whereunto I answer that, being not ceremonial, it is sufficient for any Christian, being clear and free from the Manichees’ opinion that the Old Testament has approved it. Again, granted that it has no commandment in either the Old or New Testament, is it therefore without all advice and consideration to be rejected? Verily, many things have been very acceptable unto God which have had no express commandment in the Scriptures.
Apologia vii.6 Ratio non cohaeret, quia Deus et mentem et corpus finxit. Quare ut totis illius viribus praecipue, ita huius partibus ac potentiis se adorari iussit. Cum ergo externam musicam extollimus, internum animi concentum non negamus, immo illius impetu huius aciem multo magis acuimus et excitamus.
Praaise xii.10 But the same aunswere afore, to that obiection out of Saint Augustine may satisfie these. For what if many men be more caried away with the pleasure of the sound then with the thing and ditty, is this Musickes fault? or is it not rather the fault of them, which by that which is good, take occasion of euill? If some intemperate person, take surfeit of pleasant and holsome meates, are the meates to be reprehended, or the man? And although God bee a spirite, and will bee worshipped in Spirite and trueth, yet forasmuch as hee hath made both the soule and the bodie: as well the faculties of the one, as the partes of the other are to bee referred to his glorie. For what kinde of collection is this? God is to bee worshipped in Spirite and trueth: There-fore wee muste not indeuour to please and worshippe him with our outwarde and bodilie actions. Or, the inwarde seruice of the hearte is accepted, therefore the outwarde seruice of the bodie may bee omitted?
Apologia vii.7 Musica (ut quidam docent) umbra legis non fuit, quippe nullam veritatis iam factae expressam imaginem et vestigium gessit. Sed detur fuisse ceremoniae, ratio tamen non sequitur. Multae ceremoniae quae fomites et motrices devotionis sunt adhuc in ecclesia Christi retinentur. Ob hanc causam musica in templo Salomonis fuit instituta, ob hanc solam causam a nobis iam recepta est et olim a maioribus approbata.
Praise xii.14 I aunswere, that Musicke was no ceremony: for euerie ceremony in the time of the law was a type and figure of the somwhat, the substance wherof comming in place, the ceremony was abolished: Nowe because we finde nothing in the Gospell, which answereth to Musick in a certain agreement of similitude, as vnto his type and figure: we may therfore safely pronounce, that Musick was neither ceremoniall in the time of the Law, nor to be abolished out of the church in the time of the Gospell.
Apologia vii.8 OPPOSITIO Vocum et instrumentorum confusione sensus divini verbo aut tollitur aut obscuratur: musica ergo non est in templis toleranda.
RESPONSIO Hoc verum est si syllabice et articulatim, ut aiunt, a musicis non cantetur, verum si instrumenta et voces suaviter et distincte consonent, maiorem aestum et fervorem internae devotionis sentiemus.
Praise xii.2 - 3 OBJECTION To the former, which dislike not al kind of musick, but that which is song by certaine men ordained to that purpose, alleaging that they would haue all the people sing together.
ANSWER I answere, that if all could it were not amisse, but because it cannot be I see no reason, why the people may not take as good edification by the singing which others sing, as by the prayers that others read, especially, if they so sing as they may be vnderstood.
Apologia vii.8 OPPOSITIO Augustinus se saepe vocum concentu distractum fuisse a sensu rerum ideoque se mortaliter peccasse confitetur. Simul habet Gregorius, ubi ait dum blanda vox quaeritur congrua vita negligitur, hinc illud “Non vox sed votum, non cordula musica sed cor, non clamans sed amans cantat in aure Dei.” Probabile ergo est patres musicam in ecclesia non approbasse.
RESPONSIO Non illic artem sed suam humanam infirmitatem accusant patres. Nam ut dulcedo vini non est causa ebrietatis sed intemperantia bibentis, ita musica non est causa distractionis sed audientis incuria, qui sensu neglecto concentu solum delectatur.
Praise xii.6 - 7 OBJECTION The third reason is, because exquisite Musick maketh vs more intentiue to the note, than to the matter. And to this purpose, they alleadge the place of Saint Augustine, where he saieth, that he did sinne mortally when he was more moued with the melody, than with the ditty, that was song.
7. ANSWER Verily I do in no wise allowe that men at the reading of the chapters shold walke in the bodie of the church, and when the Organs play, giue attentiue heede thereunto: as if the whole and better part of seruice did consist in Musicke. For this is a wonderful abuse. But if they would learne to lay the fault where the fault is, they might easily learne to satisfie themselues herein: For it is not the fault of musicke if thou bee too much therwith allured, but thine own. And Sainct Augustine in that place doth not condemne Musick for the sweete sound thereof, but his owne fraile and weake nature, which tooke occasion of offence at that, which in it selfe was good.
Apologia vii.10 corruptio humoris et hominis, non vitium scientiae et artis dicitur.
Praise iv.4 so that the fault is not in music, which of itself is good, but in the corrupt nature and evil disposition of light persons, which of themselves are prone to wantonness.
Apologia viii.2 Simul habet Gregorius, ubi ait dum blanda vox quaeritur congrua vita negligitur, hinc illud “Non vox sed votum, non cordula musica sed cor, non clamans sed amans cantat in aure Dei.”
Praise xii.9 so it is also declared by the testimony of Gregory: who in distinction 92. in sancta Romana,complaineth that it falleth out oftentimes, ut dum blanda vox quaeritur, congrua vita negligatur, et cantor minister Deum moribus stimulet, cum populum vocibus delectat. That while a pleasant voice is sought, honest life is neglected, and that the singing man oftentimes offendeth God, while he indeuoreth to delight the people with his voice: adding in the same place those common verses,
Non vox sed votum, non cordula musica sed cor,
Non clamans sed amans cantat in aure Dei.
Apologia xi.11 Antecedens probo quia pulsatis instrumentis musicis dignatus est Deus coelo homunciones respicere, nubeque gloriosa divinae maiestatis suae templum Salomonis adimplere. Nam sic textus habet: Igitur cunctis pariter et tubis et voce, cymbalis et organis et diversi generis musicorum concentibus vocemque in sublime tollentibus longe sonius audiebatur, ita ut cum dominum laudare cepissent et dicere Confitemini domini quoniam bonus, quoniam in aeternum misericordia eius, impleretur domus Dei nube ne possent sacerdotes stare et ministrare propter caliginem. Compleverat enim gloria domini domum Dei.
Praise ix.2 Afterwards, when the temple was built by Solomon, and the Ark, with other things dedicated thereunto by David, was brought into the temple, the Levites according to their office sang unto the Lord songs of praise and thanksgiving, lifting up their voices with trumpets and cymbals, and with instruments of music: which service the Lord did so gratefully accept that he vouchsafed his visible presence and filled the temple with his glory.
10. The number of parallels between these two works is sufficiently impressive that, if someone wishes to argue that they are not both written by Case, they require explanation. And this might be difficult to do. If Case were helping himself so liberally to another man’s work, he would at least be coming close to plagiarism, which would be quite uncharacteristic, since in his other works he is scrupulous in acknowledging his debts.
11. This brings us back, finally, to the obvious question: if Case wrote The Praise of Musick, why did he not acknowledge its authorship, either on its title page or when he later enumerated all his works in the dedicatory epistle to his 1597 Thesaurus Oeconomiae? Binns (1990, p. 437) was probably right to state “Theories which suppose that he wrote the work but was ashamed of it because he considered it undignified to write in English, or that he was afraid to acknowledge it was controversial, are groundless.” But a more plausible reason may be suggested.Case, being a consummate Aristotelian, was no doubt aware of the division of the philosopher’s works into exoteric and esoteric categories, i. e. works written for consumption by the general public and those written for the philosophical initiates of his Peripatetic school. These works were written two very different ways. The exoteric works were polished and readily comprehensible literary productions, whereas the esoteric ones (which have often been compared to a professor’s lecture notes) are crabbed, technical, difficult, and devoted to exploring philosophy’s, so to speak, inner mysteries. In his mind Case may have considered The Praise of Musicke an exoteric work, and as such not on a par with his philosophical ones, tailored to the needs of the ideal studiosus lector whom he addresses in all such volumes, including the Apologia, the earnest and at least potentially adept student of philosophy. A superior explanation for his refusal to acknowledge authorship of The Praise of Musicke may therefore be that he did not choose to put his name on the title page of a work he considered exoteric and therefore not worth claiming as his own.
12. A parallel for this kind of thinking exists in the instance of William Camden. According to Thomas Smith in his 1691 Viri Clarissim Gulielmi Camdeni Vita (§35):
Libellum vero Anglicano idiomate exaratum, Disquisitiones seu Maioris Magisque Serii Operis Mantissam continentem (sic enim in schedis, quas vidi propria manu descriptas, nominarat) prius D. Grevillo destinatam, cum mentis erga patronum optimum beneficiorum sensu quasi obrutae gratitudinem illustriori indicio ac specimine nuperrime ostendisset, illum sub nomine Reliquiarum Britanniae nobilissimo viro D. Roberto Cottono equiti aurato et baronetto inscriptum, finalibus nominis sui literis M. N. tandum appositis, anno 1604, in lucem edi passus est.
[“In the year 1604 he allowed a small book composed in the English language to see the light, comprising Disquisitions, or a Miscellany of More or Less Serious Work (for thus he called it in his holograph, which he originally intended to dedicate to Sir Fulke Greville, but, since he had very recently displayed his gratitude towards his right excellent benefactor, as if with senses overwhelmed, by a more illustrious proof and token, he published it under the title Remains Concerning Britain, dedicated to the right noble Sir Robert Cotton, knight and Baronet, signed only with the last letters of his name, M. N.”]
It deserves to be emphasized that Camden refused to acknowledge authorship of such writings because of their contents, not their language. For, with regard to his Reges, Reginae, Nobiles, Et alii in Ecclesia Collegiata B. Petri Westmonasterii sepulti Usque ad annum reparatae Salutis 1600, Smith goes on to write (§ 36):
Ad quaecunque enim accesserit loca ubi magnatum cineres conditi, epitaphia et quicquid in cippis insigium fuerit depictum in commentarios retulit, praecipue monumenta quae in templis sacellisque collegiorum academiae Oxoniensis et in basilica S. Petri Westmonasteriensis perspexisset. Hanc cum omnes quotquot ex exteris regionibus Londinum petunt, harum rerum vel maxime incuriosi, tum ob splendorem et magnificentiam fabricae, tum ab mausolaea quibus nostri reges, reginae et nobilissime prosapiae heroes sepulti iacent, soleant invisere, in illorum, ne dicam nostratium, gratiam, ut quod celeri oculo praelibassent, memoriae altius infigeretur, inscriptiones, quibus dilucida gestorum epitome subinde continentur, non laureolam ex hoc mustaceo, quod infra tanti viri dignitatem longe subsidebat, quaesiturus, sed solo honesto iis gratificandi studio, suppresso nomine, anno Christi MDC excudi fecit.
[“Wherever he visited places where the remains of great men were buried, in his notebooks he recorded their epitaphs and whatever was depicted on their tombstones, particularly in Oxford college chapels and the Chapel of St. Peter’s at Westminster. For whatever men come to London from outlying regions, even those least curious about such matters, are wont to visit the Abbey, both because of the splendor and magnificence of its fabric and because of the tombs in which lie our Kings, Queens and Peers of high degree; for their sake (not to mention that of us Londoners), so what they have glanced at with a quickly-running eye might be deeper infixed in their memory, in a book published in the year of Christ 1600, issued without its author’s name, he published inscriptions in which are contained a bright summary of these men’s deeds, not bent on seeking the laurel wreath from this place where it is so easily garnered, which lay far beneath so great a man’s dignity, but only out of a straightforward enthusiasm for gratifying such readers.”]
It is instructive to observe that, even though it was written in Latin, Camden chose not to sign his name to it, evidently regarding this somewhat popularizing guidebook as beneath the dignity of his serious work and therefore undeserving of acknowledgment. It might be suggested that Case allowed the The Praise of Musicke to enter the world as an “orphan” because he was operating according to a similar way of thinking.
13. We have no idea of the proximate cause of the writing of the 1588 Apologia, of why, having already anonymously published Praise for the benefit of the general reading public, Case now thought it necessary to frame a similar defense of music for the consumption of a specialized academic audience, and why he now chose to sign his name to his work, thereby giving it the extra weight of the enormous personal authority he enjoyed at Oxford. Perhaps there was some undocumented squabble when local puritannically-minded academics objected to music as performed in college chapels, similar to the later debate that erupted when Dr. John Rainolds and William Gager crossed swords over the legitimacy of academic drama. But although Case’s reasons for writing Apologia are unknown to us, in the light of the many detailed parallels between these two treatises, the grounds for denying his authorship of Praise do not seem sufficiently convincing.
14. Mr. Byram-Wigfield concludes his edition with an appended glossary of words that he anticipated would be unfamiliar to modern readers. I have some something similar, by inserting glosses in the text [in smaller letters enclosed within square brackets], and in some cases I have availed myself of his explanations. I take this opportunity to extend my thanks to Mr. Ian Harwood of Ipswich, Suffolk, for suggesting this project for me, for his willingness to discuss points of musicological detail, and for his patience in gradually bringing me around to his view that The Praise of Musicke was written by Case.
NOTE 1 Discussions of authorship include Falcolner Madan, Oxford Books (Oxford, 1895) 279f., William Ringler, “‘The Praise of Musicke’ by John Case, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America liv (1960) 119 - 21, Howard B. Barnett, “John Case: An Elizabethan Music Scholar,” Music and Letters l (1969) 252 - 66, J. W. Binns, “John Case and ‘The Praise of Musicke’,” Music and Letters lv (1974_ 444 - 53. (and Appendix C of his Intellectual Culture in Elizabethan and Jacobean England: The Latin Writings of the Age (Leeds,1990) with works cited p. 549. Cf. also Appendix VIII of Charles B. Schmitt, John Case and Aristotelianism in Renaissance England (Kingston - Montreal, 1983) with further scholarship cited.
NOTE 2 Case also wrote about music in commenting on Book VIII of Aristotle’s Politics in his 1588 Sphaera Civitatis.
NOTE 3 Preserved by a.) an undated contemporary broadside publishing William Byrd’s setting of the text as a six-part madrigal: cf. Philip Brett, The Byrd Edition (London, 1976) XVI.16 - 32; b.) Brit. Lib. MS. Rawlinson Poetic 148, fol. 100, John Lilliat’s poetic and musical commonplace book, which has been edited by Edward Doughtie under the title Liber Lilliati (Newark - London, 1985) pp. 113f. See further the discussion by Schmitt, p. 257.
NOTE 4 Too few circumstantial details are known about Case’s private life to allow us to know whether or not he was musically adept. The only relevant known fact comes from St. John's College, Oxon., MS. 52.1 detailed account of the events of 1607, when the college was “ruled” by a Christmas Prince, a kind of combined Master of the Revels and Lord of Misrule who presided over a year-long festival of plays and other entertainments, and was given considerable freedom to boss around the other members of the college (and, evidently, to spend its money). The individual in question was a certain Thomas Tucker, and the manuscript (p. 26) informs us that “the last Prince before him was Dr. Case.” This suggests that Case’s lifelong proclivity for defending drama and music against Puritannical attack was based on a familiarity with the performing arts that was more than theoretical.
NOTE 5 Roger Harmon, in the course of “Studies in the Cambridge Lute Manuscripts I: Musica,” The Lute xxxviii (1998) 29 - 42. (I owe this reference to Ian Harwood.)
NOTE 6 In addition, in appropriate commentary notes on the text, I have listed a few parallels between details in Praise and ones in some of Case’s other works. A careful canvass of all his writings might yield more.
NOTE 7 Falconer Madan (followed by Binns in 1964, p. 451) observed that there are some discrepancies between these two narratives, and suggested that the version in Praise comes directly from the German musical theorist Andreas Ornithoparchus, as adverstised in a sidenote, whereas the one in Apologia comes from some second source. One cannot help observing how easy it would have been for someone to have used Ornithoparchus’ story as the basis for one of those allegorizing academic comedies so popular in the Renaissance.