English Song Lyrics
Beauty's But an Idle Boast

English song lyrics from a gentler era... "Beauty's But an Idle Boast" is a little-known singing round that is very beautiful.

A nice easy range

In the key of Am (shown), this round has a comfortable range... from Middle C to high C, fine for children and also women who haven't done much singing for years!  

But a very complex melody

However, the melody is more complex than beginner rounds such as Ah Poor Bird and Heigh Ho:

English round lyrics in "Beauty's But an Idle Boast"

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

A casual gathering sings this round

Myself, I'd take this melody quite a bit higher!  I would also insist that the singers carry the long notes in the second measure of each line through to the next measure, taking breaths only at the end of each line, so that the beautiful harmony of the Am chord can be heard.

Because this is a complicated melody, I've also made this song available with Alphanotes.  

These are made-easy notes that make it possible for singers who are just learning musical notes to gain accuracy with this melody.  

Many singers do not read well

I have a singer with a lot of ability, but not the skill to EASILY read a tune with multiple skips and a few accidentals and ledger line notes, and this easy-reader note version helped her to learn this song quickly.

Free vocal music with English song lyrics

Please scroll down the page for the download links.

I neglected to put "1", "2", and "3" where the new voices are to begin, but I'm sure you'll figure that out!  Each line of the music is one section, then at the next line, a new voice enters back at the beginning of the song...

Harmony backup keeps notes true

Try the chords on piano or guitar as the group sings.  

With this particular singing round, I have found that it is easier to keep the singers on their notes by using the chords than by banging out the melody.  

Extend the breath & energy

Don't let your voice students drop the breath in the middle of the lines - look at the phrase markings in the first arrangement above (not the lettered notes version).  

If they stop to take a breath after "but", and "to-day" in lines 1, 2, and 3, all the energy drops out of the line, and the harmony as well! Demonstrate this for your beginners - they will get it.  (The failure to do this by the singers in the video above made their performance less exciting.)

Make them carry the sound through to the end of each line.  

They can do all the breathing exercises for singing you want at the beginning of their lessons, but if they don't learn to apply it to real music, you are failing in your job.  Make them HEAR themselves.

Old-fashioned lyrics - the source

The round lyrics of this very beautiful piece are quite old-fashioned - I would have guessed they are from Elizabethan England.  

However, they are of more recent vintage; a 240+ page book called Moral Emblems: With Aphorisms, Adages, And Proverbs, Of All Ages And Nations (1860) is the source of the song lyrics.  

This book is only available as facsimile versions or a Kindle version on Amazon (or $499 or so for an old hardback!), or free at Google Books, if you can figure out how to download their ebooks.  

I found the illustrations and moral sayings irresistible in an old-fashioned charming way.  Here is a taste of the warnings from these gentlemen of a bygone era:

"Time! it is, whose stealthy wing
         Throws on all alike its shade,--
Fades the bloom of ev'ry thing,
         Howsoever fair 'twas made!
                Time! though it so softly treads,
                Silent ruin round us spreads;
                And as Age has done by me,
                If you live, you'll surely see --
                Beauty's but an idle boast,
                Your's to-day; to-morrow lost!

"But, there is a Beauty yet,
        Far more lasting in the wear;
That which Virtue doth beget,
        Fadeless - bright - beyond compare:
                Make that Beauty your's, fair maid;
                Time o'er that can cast no shade;
                And when wrinkled that fair brow,
               'T will be fairer far than now, -
                With a Beauty that shall gain
                Lasting Love in God's domain."



The links for the round:


Download English Song Lyrics - singing round Beauty's But an Idle Boast


Download free vocal music from England with letters in the notes


More Rounds at Music-for-Music-Teachers.com


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Beauty's But an Idle Boast

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About the Author

Dana Thynes

Hi, I'm Dana!  (Say that like "Anna".)  I'm the owner of Music-for-Music-Teachers.com, and a newer site, SingTheBibleStory.com.

Like some of you, I've been playing the piano since early childhood, and have added a few other instruments along the way, plus an interest in arranging and composing music.

You can find out more about me and the reason for this website at my About Me page.