Henry Purcell: Come All Ye Songsters
Henry Purcell’s semi-opera The Fairy Queen is based on an anonymous adaptation of William Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The show premiered in 1682 – just three years before the composer’s death. After his passing, the scores for The Fairy Queen were sadly lost and only re-found some time in the twentieth century.
Come All Ye Songsters features in Act II of the show and shows the gleeful dance that Titania and her fairies do before falling to sleep.
Come all ye songsters of the sky,
Wake and assemble in this wood;
But no ill-boding bird be nigh,
No, none but the harmless, and the good.
Sung by a tenor voice, Come All Ye Songsters starts with a cheerful and quick theme from the string ensemble. The voice enters, repeating important words such as ‘Come All’ – so he can get the attention of the fairies. Accompanied by lower strings and harpsichord, the highly melismatic vocal part glides across the busy accompaniment. The quick tempo and cheerful character keeps the music moving along, making it easier for the fairies to dance to. Only lasting c.2 minutes in duration, this short but sweet song will stick in your head for days.
Ⓒ Alex Burns