Boerhaave wrote to Clerk about the text, describing the emphasis he had given to I, E and S as sounds suitable for lamentation, drawing attention to the rhythm and metre, and stating that in the first two sections the mood of mourning dominates, in the third a sense of hope emerges, the fourth being joyful and the fifth, devout and exultant. Clerk has respected these observations. The opening Adagio and Aria are full of intensity, with sighing repeated notes and dissonant harmonic suspensions, the voice declaiming in broken phrases.
For the second half Clerk changes the key to the relative major and the bass line becomes cheerfully active, the vocal line gently florid; but this is dancing on the edge of the grave. The final Allegro is a dark little jig in the minor key advising us to leave the earth with joyful singing.
from notes by John Purser © 1998