My heart, whenever you appear
was included in the first edition of The Theatre of Music
and reprinted ten years later in The New Treasury of Musick
. The poet is sad, despite his love for his lady, and Purcell beautifully captures the mood of ardent melancholy. Although the poet’s heart rises whenever his love appears, finding (with a delicious, bittersweet melisma) ‘something so delightful’, he has nagging doubts that, such is the attraction of his lady, rivals to him ‘ev’ry day increase’. In the second verse he admits that the lady too has problems, for despite the thousand hearts that ‘To you their adoration owe’, she can only pick one of them. The worry that ‘racks me with despair’ is that the poet may not prove to be the chosen one.
from notes by Robert King © 2003