Creating Harmonious Subjects? Ballads, Psalms, and Godly Songs for Queen Elizabeth I’s Accession Day

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Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603) was the first monarch whose Accession Day (17 November) became an occasion for celebration. Poetic tributes to the day frequently evoked images of singing, music-making and dancing, evidence of which can be found in extant single-sheet publications, manuscripts and prayer books, as well as records of now-lost songs in the Stationers’ Register. These songs for Elizabeth's Accession Day reveal how cheaply printed or orally circulated music could become a medium for royal propaganda. Such genres spanned diverse social classes and contexts: from the educated to the illiterate, from street to church; from private household devotions to civic festivities. This countrywide singing was officially encouraged by church and government, as well as fuelled by the local enthusiasm of civic or parish authorities, individual households and commercial printers. It both created an image of England as a harmonious kingdom and attempted to instil such unity in difficult times.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-312
JournalJournal of the Royal Musical Association
Issue number2
Early online date8 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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