The author of ‘Adam’s Sleep’ is unknown, but Purcell’s 1683 setting of Sleep, Adam, and take thy rest (making this his earliest solo devotional song) displays all the characteristics of skilful pictorialisation which culminated ten years later in ‘The Blessed Virgin’s Expostulation’. The opening finds Adam sleeping quietly, the voice low in its range but quickly rising as the sleeping man awakes to see what God has done whilst he rested. The key brightens as the woman (sprung from Adam’s side and so new that she has not yet been named Eve) is viewed for the first time; her appearance ushers in the brief seven bars of arioso ‘Flesh of thy flesh’. ‘Wake, Adam, wake’ comes with more emphasis as Adam greets his new bride, but the caveat is delicious in its sinewy, serpentine lines for both voice and continuo lest the new-found joy ‘prove thy snare’.
from notes by Robert King ©