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Farewell, all joys, Z368

composer
The Theatre of Music, 1685
author of text

 
Farewell, all joys was published in 1685 in Playford’s The Theatre of Music and repeated ten years later in the same publisher’s The New Treasury of Musick. A lady pines for her lover who has gone overseas, perhaps as a traveller or a sailor – though she is confident that, when he returns, she will live ‘In lasting love’. The poem derives from a celebrated series of Latin elegies by a French poet, F Remond. Alexis was a young Roman noble who had taken a vow to devote himself solely to God. But his parents, whom he always obeyed, commanded him to marry. After the ceremony he slipped away, disguised as a pilgrim bound for Tarsus. In the elegies his bride, Ruth, laments his decision and fears for him on the seas. The version Purcell sets secularizes the story and, despite the ambiguity of the last line, we are not, in this case, left with much doubt that his bride will live happily in the end.

Purcell’s song is simple and strophic, much in the lute-song tradition, but exquisitely crafted, especially in the rising chromaticism of ‘Whilst I with pensive look, and tears, This cruel absence mourn’, and the eloquent sighs and panting of the last stanza.

from notes by Robert King © 2003

Recordings

Purcell: Secular solo songs, Vol. 1
CDA66710Archive Service; also available on CDS44161/3
Purcell: The complete secular solo songs
CDS44161/33CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

Details

Track 9 on CDA66710 [1'28] Archive Service; also available on CDS44161/3
Track 9 on CDS44161/3 CD1 [1'28] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

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