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Stanford’s setting, For ever mine, arguably the finest of the whole set, was completed in July 1889. Though Boulton’s words are undistinguished, their preoccupation with delicate simile inspired Stanford to produce a miniature of exceptional tenderness. Fragile strands of melody in the introduction – the falling-sixth intervals of the opening bars – permeate the vocal contours in subtle forms (e.g. ‘to a gossamer’, and its inversion ‘on my wings to bear’) and are given textual definition at the close of verse one (‘So pure, so rare’). This intervallic motive is subsequently central to the next two verses which skilfully incorporate and develop the music of the introduction. Of particular note within this highly imaginative, modified-strophic design is the deftness with which this material is subsumed into the conclusion of verse two (‘to welcome her to her fairy throne’) and further reworked both into the vocal climax (‘of my heart to twine’) and the coda (‘O may she peacefully nestle there, for ever mine.’) of verse three.
from notes by Jeremy Dibble © 2000