Printed song sheet
'A Choice Song' from the opera Thompis
Early 18th century
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
This early 18th century ballad sheet has woodcut images of trumpeters and soldiers at the top and a kissing couple below. These images represent the military and amorous aspects of the song's lyrics, in which love is seen as an inspiration during war as well as a reward at its end. Printers realised that pictures added appeal to their ballad sheets, and so began adding more than one image if possible. Sometimes they used the woodcuts they had in stock to illustrate more than one ballad sheet. The opera title Thompis is a printer's spelling error. This song actually came from was the medley opera Thomyris, Queen of Scythia, staged at Drury Lane in 1707. It was sung in English with words by Peter Motteux and music from airs by Alessandro Scarlatti and Giovanni Bononcini, arranged by the German musician John Pepusch who played the harpsichord at Drury Lane theatre.