Henry Purcell

Now that the sun hath veiled his light, sacred song for soprano & continuo ("An Evening Hymn"), Z. 193

    Description by John Palmer

    Now that the sun hath veil'd his light, Z. 193, was published in 1688 in Henry Playford's Harmonia Sacra, or Divine Hymns and Dialogues. The first piece in the collection, Now that the sun is subtitled "An Evening Hymn on a Ground." A second volume of Harmonia Sacra appeared in 1693 with several more pieces by Purcell. In Playford's publication, the song gives only the voice and bass parts, with only seven measures showing bass figures. Later editions contain figures or realized accompaniments by editors.

    The text of "Now that the sun hath veil'd his light" is by Dr. William Fuller, bishop of Lincoln. As the narrator puts himself to bed, he wonders, "But where, where shall my soul repose?" He hopes it is in the arms of his "Dear God" and is thankful that he has had many days of life. Purcell sets Fuller's rumination on an evening prayer with serene music in G major.

    Purcell's ground bass is simple and descending, behaving like an ornamented G major passacaglia. A repeated pattern of three half notes descends stepwise, then rises a step to begin again. This happens for four measures, falling from G to B. In the fifth measure, the bass rises through C to D, then the pattern begins again. Purcell, as usual, avoids the potential monotony of the ground bass song by altering the voice part often and to such a degree that it covers the manifold repetitions of the bass. Nearly every line of the poem is repeated, but to melodies of different shape and length. However, these irregular phrases have common motives, such as those setting the two appearances of "To the soft" and "Then to thy rest." Also, the motive setting the words "singing" is the basis for the extended "Alleluia," which Purcell added to Fuller's text.

    As in "Music for a while" (From Oedipus), Z. 583, Purcell transposes the ground bass in order to modulate in the middle of the song. In "Now that the sun," the G major ground first moves up a third, at "And can there be," allowing a foray into B minor. At the repetition of this line, Purcell pushes to the dominant (D major) through A major. Before the "Alleluia," the piece returns to G major, but in the course of this new section, which is as long as the preceding song, we hear other brief modulations before a final dotted-rhythm melisma and a close on G major.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2019 Linn Records CKD 592
    2019
    If
    Signum Classics SIGCD 586
    2019 Resonus RES 10235
    2018 Melodiya MELCD 1002533
    2018 ATMA Classique ACD 22726
    2017 Accent ACC 24333
    2017 Aparte AP 117
    2017 Resonus Classics / Sono Luminus RES 10184
    2017 Arcana A 430
    2017 ABC Classics
    2017 Acqua Records AQ 493
    2017 Claudio CR 37102
    2017 Claudio CR 37106
    2016 TYX Art TXA 15060
    2016 Zefir Records ZEF 9644
    2015 Avie AV 2325
    2015 L'Oiseau-Lyre 4787863
    2015 Alpha ALPHA 538
    2015 Delphian DCD 34161
    2015 Enchiriadis EN 2042
    2014 Griffin GCCD 4081
    2014 Teldec 2564641038
    2014 Erato 2564636203
    2013 Alpha / Alpha Productions / Out Here Records ALPHA 192
    2013 United Classics T 2CD2012129
    2012 Aparte AP 027
    2012 Lawo Classics LAW 1010
    2011 Philmore Ensemble
    2011 Wigmore Hall Live 38
    2011 Decca
    2011 Decca
    2011 ABC Classics ABC4764362
    2011 Warner Classics 2564673671
    2010 Digital
    2010 Decca
    2010 Decca 4782262
    2010 Arcana 310
    2010 Coro 16081
    2009 Harmonia Mundi 907443
    2009 MSR Classics 1296
    2009 Hyperion 55303
    2009 Warner Classics 2564691407
    2009 Ambroisie AM 185
    2009 Erato / Virgin Classics 5099968636
    2009 Naxos 8556839
    2008 Harmonia Mundi 50249
    2008 BIS 1536
    2007 Landor Records LAN 280
    2007 ATMA Classique 2398
    2007 ATMA Classique ACD2398
    2007 Virgin Classics 0946395144
    2007 Naïve E 8915
    2007 L'Oiseau-Lyre
    2007 L'Oiseau-Lyre 4759109
    2007 Signum UK 066
    2007 Alba 131
    2007 Decca 4605832
    2006 Brilliant Classics 92137
    2006 Harmonia Mundi 2908174
    2006 VAI Audio 1258
    2006 Sanctuary 3062
    2006 Orfeo 689061
    2005 Nonesuch
    2005 ATMA Classique 22389
    2005 Symposium 1333
    2005 Archiv Produktion 000346002
    2005 Brilliant 99790
    2004 EMI Classics 585973
    2003 Teldec 60290
    2003 Warner Classics 561118
    2003 Griffin 4040
    2003 Naïve 8882
    2002 Columns 555008
    2002 Hyperion 44141/51
    2001 Nonesuch 79605
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 65501
    2001 Columns 290170
    2001 Meridian Records 84432
    2001 Angel Records / Erato 7243561866
    2000 Deux-Elles DXL911
    2000 Decca 467454
    2000 Virgin 45400
    1999 Arcana 10
    1999 Claves 500705
    1999 Harmonia Mundi 7907035
    1998 Guild 7150
    1998 Harmonia Mundi 94249
    1998 ATMA Classique 22133
    1997 Marquis Classics 81185
    1997 Proprius-AudioSource 9033
    1996 ASV/Living Era 6172
    1996 Hyperion 3
    1995 Astree 8564
    1995 Harmonia Mundi 290835.37
    1995 Harmonia Mundi 2901528.33
    1995 Sony Music Distribution 53981
    1995 VAI Audio 1130
    1994 Albany Music Distribution TROY127-2
    1994 Virgin 59324
    1994 Hyperion CDA66716
    1992 Dorian 90105
    1992 DHM Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 77252
    1992 Harmonia Mundi 90249
    1992 Harmonia Mundi 907035
    1989 Hyperion 66288
    Eigenart 10020
    No Labels
    Meridian Records 84112
    Brilliant Classics 93937
    Quattro Records 9304