The fifth volume of Thesaurus Musicus
states that Lovely Albina’s come ashore
was ‘The last song that Mr. Henry Purcell sett before he Dy’d’ but the first edition of Orpheus Britannicus
is more precise, stating that it was ‘The last Song the Author sett before his Sickness’ (elsewhere telling us that the song ‘From rosy Bow’rs’ in Don Quixote
was ‘The last Song the Author sett, it being in his sickness’). We can safely presume that Lovely Albina
was one of Purcell’s last compositions. The allegorical references in the text have not yet been satisfactorily explained but may refer to King William’s latest military campaign in Europe or to his reconciliation with Princess Anne. The setting is florid, making much of the interplay between voice and continuo, and full of ornate melismas, but including more thoughtful writing for ‘This beauty will relieve’ and a wonderful last phrase which, in other contexts, Purcell might have marked with his expressively concise direction ‘drag’.
from notes by Robert King © 2003