The Queen’s Musician William Byrd On the Execution of Edmund Campion December 1, 1581
In his heartrending groans, his sighs to Christ
I heard song, whilst he suffered his trials,
Savagely racked, broken.
Now at Tyburn,
On this frozen winter’s morn, Campion,
My most exquisite priest presents to die.
The hangman himself is moved to mercy.
Thus, when the rope snaps, wrenching round his neck,
The twitching legs are tugged to make death quick,
Sparing him the horrors of hacked off limbs,
A faint Te Deum
Rises from the crowd. This will be my task:
Immortalise this hero in music.
With sacred hymns, stately marches, will I
Emblazon his name for eternity.