Pastora’s beauties when unblown
is an early song, published in Playford’s third book of Choice Ayres and Songs to Sing to the Theorbo-lute or Bass-viol
in 1681. It was also included in William Pearson’s collection Wit and Mirth
in 1719. Pastora is a stock shepherdess of literature (appearing, for instance, in Spenser’s The Faerie Queen
as Pastorella). Here the story is sad; the singer recognized Pastora’s beauties from an early age and used to lie awake at night pining for her. He had never before fallen in love, but Fate ‘whom none can control’ pointed Pastora to our lover. Between verses two and three all has gone wrong and our lover berates the gods, demanding that they ‘take away the tort’ring pain’. Purcell’s setting is a strophic one, delicious in its lute-song simplicity.
from notes by Robert King © 2003