This song first appeared in Henry Playford’s first book of The Theatre of Music
in 1685. In the two verses the poet comments on the hopelessness of man’s trying to conceal his natural impulse to fall in love: whatever our attempts ‘To stifle our flame and check our desire’, there is no ‘concealing of fire’. Purcell’s melody is, as ever, beautifully crafted, combining tuneful elegance with melodic inventiveness, and the bass line is also well worth attention, rising inexorably for the first eight bars and falling even further during the next phrase. Those two elements are neatly combined in contrary motion between the voice and continuo at ‘When frowning the courtship we seem to despise’.
from notes by Robert King © 2003