Stanford completed his Six Songs
Op 19 in May 1882. The second song, A Lullaby
, took Thomas Dekker’s famous words from Act 4 Scene 2 of his play The Pleasant Comedy of Patient Grissill
(1603), ‘Golden slumbers kiss your eyes’. It was first sung at a CUMS Popular Concert on 25 October 1882 by Gerard Cobb (a keen amateur musician, organist and close friend of Stanford at Trinity College) with the composer at the piano. Among the numerous interpretations of this text, by Warlock, Howells and Somervell (who excelled at lullabies), Stanford’s setting has retained perhaps the greatest popularity, owing, one suspects, to the transparent simplicity of its components – the limpid lullaby ‘charm’ that climbs gently through the octave, the artlessness of the vocal line, the unforced hemiolas, and the masterful subdominant inflections (especially at the close).
from notes by Jeremy Dibble © 2000