Thursday, March 22, 2018

One beautiful song

Deb Lewis asked about a special medieval love song, but I don't know of one. Some conversation followed (on facebook, here), and I kept thinking about it for a couple of days, as I tend to do.

Then I started a response which I accidentally lost, so I'm bringing it over here where I can work more slowly and carefully.

There is a beautiful song of love and longing, but it's not not a love song. It's not a religious song, really (not worship, not a church song). It's not about unrequited love. It's about exhaustion, perhaps old age, and a calm desire to sleep, or to relax quietly in heaven. It uses the word "sprite," which I love, and not "old age," but the more powerful "cold age."

Unlike madrigals, it does have a tune. It'a a part-song, so voices stay in their own ranges without jumping the track, and it can be done with instrumental backup instead.

The lyrics are brief and beautiful.
Never weather-beaten sail,Thomas Campion. 1567?–1619

Never weather-beaten sail more willing bent to shore;
Never tirèd pilgrim's limbs affected slumber more
Than my wearied sprite now longs to fly out of my troubled breast;
O come quickly, sweetest Lord, and take my soul to rest!

Ever blooming are the joys of heaven's high Paradise;
Cold age deafs not there our ears, nor vapour dims our eyes;
Glory there the sun outshines, whose beams the Blessèd only see;
O come quickly, glorious Lord, and raise my sprite to Thee!

         That's the original verse. For vocal arrangements, the "O come quickly" is repeated three times.

I listened to some videos, and most did it too quickly for my tastes, so a note to Deb: I could sing it for you, but I wouldn't have three other voices. [I have sung it before, and I love it.] So this first video is the speed I like, but imagine it with four voices, one of them mine, and not done so full-voice, fill-up-the-church, but gently, and clearly but softly.

Then I found this, which I love for the yellow shoes on that one guy, and the oddity. The group above is in The Netherlands. This performance below was in London, but I don't know if they combined two groups (seems) or what, exactly, is up with it, but it's fun.

I have friends and relatives who have done combo Renaissance instruments and north-African/Middle-Eastern music before, too.