A thousand sev’ral ways I tried
was first published in Playford’s fifth book of Choice Ayres and Songs
(1684) but appears in an earlier manuscript in the British Museum which is dated around 1681. The lover desperately tried not to show his passion (a word which, in Purcell’s setting, leaps up a ninth), knowing that he was unworthy (the phrase descends as he sings this). But by keeping away he ‘Did so increase my wretched pain’ that he returned, preferring that his love would cut him ‘By the swift fate of your disdain’.
from notes by Robert King © 2003