According to the historian and musicologist Katherine Butler, this broadside ballad - a love song between the Queen and her realm - was the earliest one written in her praise. It is actually set to the music of "Ouer the Broome Bessy
," a somewhat earlier popular song of the day.
Published in 1564, there is said to be only one copy extant, which is held by the Society Of Antiquaries in London. Elizabeth was actually crowned in January 1559, so it is not impossible there were earlier songs which have not survived. It remains to be seen if the motives of William Birche were entirely pure; thirty years later, the famous lutenist John Dowland composed "Say, Love, If Ever Thou Didst Find" likewise in honor of the Virgin Queen, and almost certainly with an eye on a lucrative Royal appointment.
Alexander Baron - London, England