Hyperion Records

With sick and famish'd eyes, Z200
composer
1688
author of text
Religious Elegy

Recordings
'Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 5' (CDA66656)
Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 5
MP3 £4.00FLAC £4.00ALAC £4.00Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA66656  Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51   Download currently discounted
'Purcell: The Complete Sacred Music' (CDS44141/51)
Purcell: The Complete Sacred Music
MP3 £35.00FLAC £35.00ALAC £35.00Buy by post £40.00 CDS44141/51  11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
Details
Track 2 on CDA66656 [5'22] Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51
Track 2 on CDS44141/51 CD5 [5'22] 11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

With sick and famish'd eyes, Z200
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George Herbert’s graphically descriptive ‘religious elegy’ was set by Purcell during 1688, a year in which many of the composer’s finest solo devotional songs are thought to have been written. Herbert (1593-1633) was, as well as a gifted poet and an influential academic figure before he turned to the priesthood, a keen musician whose regular visits to hear the singing in Salisbury Cathedral he described as ‘Heaven upon Earth’. Purcell set seven of the thirteen verses of With sick and famish’d eyes, colouring their ardent sentiments with music of extraordinary intensity and enhancing the words with pictorialisation of great detail.

The opening sets a doleful tone, the writer’s spirit at its lowest ebb, eyes and bones weary to the point of exhaustion. His groans and cries rise with faint optimism through the scale, only for his hopes to be dashed at ‘No end?’ His throat is discordantly hoarse, his heart withered at the lowest point of the scale, and his confused thoughts are represented in musical circles: the voice falls with its subject, yet still clambers back to call again. ‘Bowels of pity’ are suitably discordant, and the singer calls to the ‘Lord of my soul’, hopelessness represented by reaching only the seventh note of the scale: ‘love of my mind’ hits a plangent false relation, and the music bows ‘down thine ear’. Words ‘scatter’, sorrows are desolately harmonised, and the music rises as the flames of the furnace increase. The interval on ‘griefs’ sadly falls, and ‘shames’ again plunge to the bottom of the voice. The death of Jesus is coloured with mournful harmony, and once again the writer raises his voice as he calls to the Lord.

Desperation is replaced by the faintest of optimism as ‘thy dust doth stir, it moves, it creeps to thee’. He pleads that his prayers, even though he is no more important than lowly dust, will be heard: ‘Pluck out thy dart, And heal my troubled breast’ and, with a monumental discord, ‘heal my troubled breast’. But the emotional outburst is to no avail: the writer, and Purcell’s graphic music, desolately dies.

from notes by Robert King ©

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDS44141/51 disc 5 track 2
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-93-65602
Duration
5'22
Recording date
20 April 1993
Recording venue
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Ben Turner
Recording engineer
Philip Hobbs
Hyperion usage
  1. Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 5 (CDA66656)
    Disc 1 Track 2
    Release date: June 1993
    Deletion date: October 2007
    Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51
  2. Purcell: The Complete Sacred Music (CDS44141/51)
    Disc 5 Track 2
    Release date: November 2002
    11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Show: MP3 FLAC ALAC
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