She that would gain a faithful lover
appeared in print in 1695 in Henry Playford’s Deliciae Musicae
. The author was discreetly named as ‘Lady E… M…’ whose advice in the first verse to women wishing to gain their ‘faithful lover’ was to keep men uncertain and guessing for, once a lady’s commitment was announced, in all likelihood the man’s attention would wander. The second verse is more specifically aimed at Aurelia, who is advised to use the same technique, the advice illustrated with the observation that men will ‘with trembling view the blaze’ of a comet, but ignore the sun as being a commonplace. Purcell’s charming setting incorporates that sense of sly feminine charm with a series of gestural, notated ornaments and a splendid melisma for the words ‘fly’ and ‘wonder’.
from notes by Robert King © 2003