Epithalamion

Cantata by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 - 1958)

Word count: 835
A cantata founded on the masque, The Bridal Day.

1. Prologue [sung text checked 1 time]

Early, before the worlds light-giving lampe
His golden beame upon the hils doth spred,
Having disperst the nights unchearfull dampe,
Doe ye awake, and, with fresh lustyhed,
Go to the bowre of my beloved Love,
My truest turtle dove.
Bid her awake; for Hymen is awake,
[ ... ]

Authorship

Confirmed with The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, Volume V, edited by Francis J. Child, London: Imprinted for William Ponsonbie, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the Signe of the Bishops Head, 1591.

Notes in text:
Tead, torch.
Dight, deck.

Modernized spelling used in Vaughan Williams's music:

Early, before the world's light-giving lamp,
His golden beam upon the hills doth spread,
Having dispersed the night's uncheerful damp,
Do ye awake and with fresh lusty head,
Go to the bower of my beloved love,
My truest turtle dove:
Bid her awake; for Hymen is awake.

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Gustav Ringel

2. Wake now

Note: this is a multi-text setting


Bring with you all the nymphes that you can heare,
Both of the rivers and the forrests greene,
And of the sea that neighbours to her neare,
All with gay girlands goodly wel beseene. 
And let them also with them bring in hand
Another gay girland,
For my fayre Love, of lillyes and of roses,
Bound truelove wize with a blew silke riband.
And let them make great store of bridale poses, 
And let them eke bring store of other flowers,
To deck the bridale bowers:
[ ... ]
Which done, doe at her chamber dore awayt, For she will waken strayt; The whiles do ye this song unto her sing, The woods shall to you answer, and your eccho ring.

Authorship

Confirmed with The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, Volume V, edited by Francis J. Child, London: Imprinted for William Ponsonbie, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the Signe of the Bishops Head, 1591.

Notes in text:
Beseene, adorned.
Diapred, variegated.

Modernized spelling used in Vaughan Williams's music:

Bring with you all the Nymphs that you can hear
Both of the rivers and the forests green:
And of the sea that neighbours to her near,
All with gay garlands goodly well be seen.
And let them also with them bring in hand,
Another gay garland
for my fair love, of lilies and of roses,
Bound truelove wise with a blue silk riband.
And let them make great store of bridal posies,
And let them eke bring store of other flowers
To deck the bridal bowers.
...
Which done, do at her chamber door await,
For she will waken straight,
The whiles do you this song unto her sing,
The woods shall … answer and your echo ring.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]


Wake now, my Love, awake! for it is time:
[ ... ]
Hark! how the cheerefull birds do chaunt theyr laies, And carroll of Loves praise: The merry larke hir mattins sings aloft; The thrush replyes; the mavis descant playes; The ouzell shrills; the ruddock warbles soft; So goodly all agree, with sweet consent, To this dayes meriment. Ah! my deere Love, why doe ye sleepe thus long, When meeter were that ye should now awake, T'awayt the comming of your ioyous make, And hearken to the birds love-learned song, The deawy leaves among! For they of ioy and pleasance to you sing, That all the woods them answer, and theyr eccho ring.

Authorship

Confirmed with The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, Volume V, edited by Francis J. Child, London: Imprinted for William Ponsonbie, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the Signe of the Bishops Head, 1591.

Notes in text:
Mavis, song-thrush.
Descant, variation.
Ouzell, blackbird.
Ruddock, redbreast.
Make, mate.

Modernized spelling used in Vaughan Williams's music:

Wake now my love, awake; for it is time;
...
Hark! how the cheerfull birds do chant their lays
And carol of love's praise. 
The merry Lark her matins sings aloft,
The Thrush replies, the Mavis descant plays,
The Ouzel shrills, the Ruddock warbles soft;
So goodly all agree with sweet consent,
To this day's merriment.
Ah my dear love why do ye sleep thus long,
When meeter were that ye should now awake,
T'await the coming of your joyous make,
And hearken to the birds' love learnèd song,
The dewy leaves among.
For they of joy and pleasance to you sing.
That all the woods them answer and their echo ring.

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Gustav Ringel

3. The calling of the bride [sung text checked 1 time]

Now is my Love all ready forth to come: 
Let all the virgins therefore well awayt,
And ye fresh boyes, that tend upon her groome,
Prepare your selves, for he is comming strayt.
Set all your things in seemely good aray,
Fit for so ioyfull day, 
The ioyfulst day that ever sunne did see.
Fair Sun! shew forth thy favourable ray,
And let thy lifull heat not fervent be,
For feare of burning her sunshyny face,
Her beauty to disgrace. 
O fayrest Phoebus! Father of the Muse!
If ever I did honour thee aright,
Or sing the thing that mote thy mind delight,
Doe not thy servants simple boone refuse,
But let this day, let this one day, be mine; 
Let all the rest be thine.
Then I thy soverayne prayses loud wil sing,
That all the woods shal answer, and theyr eccho ring.

Authorship

See other settings of this text.

Confirmed with The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, Volume V, edited by Francis J. Child, London: Imprinted for William Ponsonbie, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the Signe of the Bishops Head, 1591.

Note from text:
Lifull, life-full.

Modernized spelling used in Vaughan Williams's music (The calling of the bride):

Now is my love all ready forth to come:
Let all the virgins therefore well await:
And ye fresh boys that tend upon her groom
Prepare yourselves; for he is coming straight.
Set all your things in seemly good array
Fit for so joyful day:
The joyfulst day that ever sun did see.
Fair Sun, show forth thy favourable ray,
And let thy liful heat not fervent be
For fear of burning her sunshiny face,
Her beauty to disgrace.
O fairest Phoebus! father of the Muse!
If ever I did honour thee aright,
Or sing the thing that mote thy mind delight,
Do not thy servant's simple boon refuse,
But let this day, let this one day be mine,
Let all the rest be thine.
Then I thy sovereign praises loud will sing,
That all the woods shall answer and their echo ring.

Modernized spelling used in Vaughan Williams's music (Prayer to Juno):

Then I thy sovereign praises loud will sing,
That all the woods shall answer and their echo ring.

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Gustav Ringel

4. The minstrels [sung text checked 1 time]

Harke! how the minstrils gin to shrill aloud
Their merry musick that resounds from far, 
The pipe, the tabor, and the trembling croud,
That well agree withouten breach or iar.
But most of all the damzels doe delite,
When they their tymbrels smyte,
And thereunto doe daunce and carrol sweet, 
That all the sences they doe ravish quite;
The whyles the boyes run up and downe the street,
Crying aloud with strong confused noyce,
As if it were one voyce,
"Hymen, Iö Hymen, Hymen," they do shout; 
[ ... ]

Authorship

Confirmed with The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, Volume V, edited by Francis J. Child, London: Imprinted for William Ponsonbie, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the Signe of the Bishops Head, 1591.

Note from text:
Croud, violin

Modernized spelling used in Vaughan Williams's music:

Hark how the Minstrels ‘gin to shrill aloud,
Their merry music that resounds from far,
The pipe, the tabor, and the trembling Crowd,
That well agree withouten breach or jar.
But most of all the damsels do delight,
When they their timbrels smite,
And there unto do dance and carol sweet,
That all the senses they do ravish quite,
The whiles the boys run up and down the street,
Crying aloud with strong confusèd noise,
As if it were one voice. 
Hymen, Io Hymen, Hymen they do shout...


Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Gustav Ringel

5. Procession of the bride

Note: this is a multi-text setting


Loe! where she comes along with portly pace,
Lyke Phoebe, from her chamber of the East,
Arysing forth to run her mighty race, 
Clad all in white, that seems a virgin best.
So well it her beseems, that ye would weene
Some angell she had beene.
Her long loose yellow locks lyke golden wyre,
Sprinckled with perle, and perling flowres atweene,
Doe lyke a golden mantle her attyre, 
And, being crowned with a girland greene,
Seem lyke some mayden queene.
[ ... ]

Authorship

Confirmed with The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, Volume V, edited by Francis J. Child, London: Imprinted for William Ponsonbie, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the Signe of the Bishops Head, 1591.

Modernized spelling used in Vaughan Williams's music:

Lo! where she comes along with portly pace,
like Phoebe from her chamber of the east,
Arising forth to run her mighty race,
Clad all in white, that seems a virgin best.
So well it her beseems that ye would ween
Some angel she had been.
Her long loose yellow locks like golden wire,
Sprinkled with pearl, and pearling flowers atween,
Do like a golden mantle her attire,
And being crowned with a garland green,
seem like some maiden Queen...

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Gustav Ringel


Tell me, ye merchants daughters, did ye see
So fayre a creature in your towne before;
So sweet, so lovely, and so mild as she,
Adornd with beautyes grace and vertues store? 
[ ... ]

Authorship

Confirmed with The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, Volume V, edited by Francis J. Child, London: Imprinted for William Ponsonbie, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the Signe of the Bishops Head, 1591.

Notes from text:
Uncrudded, uncurdled.
In your towne. The marriage seems to have taken place in Cork, and we might infer from this passage that the heroine of the song was a merchant's daughter. C.

Modernized spelling used in Vaughan Williams's music:

Tell me ye merchants' daughters did ye see
So fair a creature in your town before,
So sweet, so lovely, and so mild as she, 
Adorned with beauty's grace and virtue's store?

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Gustav Ringel

6. The temple gates

Note: this is a multi-text setting


Open the temple gates unto my Love,
Open them wide that she may enter in, 
[ ... ]
And let the roring organs loudly play The praises of the Lord in lively notes; The whiles, with hollow throates, The choristers the ioyous antheme sing,
[ ... ]

Authorship

Confirmed with The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, Volume V, edited by Francis J. Child, London: Imprinted for William Ponsonbie, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the Signe of the Bishops Head, 1591.

Modernized spelling used in Vaughan Williams's music:

Open the temple gates unto my love,
Open them wide that she may enter in,
...
And let the roaring organs loudly play
The praises of the Lord in lively notes,
The whiles with hollow throats,
The Choristers the joyful anthem sing...

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Gustav Ringel


[ ... ]
[Sing, ye sweet angels, Alleluya sing, That all the woods may answer, and your eccho ring.]1

Authorship

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, Volume V, edited by Francis J. Child, London: Imprinted for William Ponsonbie, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the Signe of the Bishops Head, 1591.

Notes from text:
Sad, serious

1 Vaughan Williams: "Sing ye sweet angels, Alleluia / That all the woods them answer, and their echo ring."

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]


Now al is done; bring home the bride againe;
Bring home the triumph of our victory;
Bring home with you the glory of her game,
With ioyance bring her and with iollity. 
Never had man more ioyfull day than this,
Whom heaven would heape with blis.
Make feast therefore now all this live-long day;
This day for ever to me holy is.
Poure out the wine without restraint or stay,
Poure not by cups, but by the belly full,
Poure out to all that wull,
And sprinkle all the posts and wals with wine,
That they may sweat, and drunken be withall.
Crowne ye god Bacchus with a coronall,
And Hymen also crowne with wreaths of vine;
And let the Graces daunce unto the rest,
For they can doo it best:
The whiles the maydens doe theyr carroll sing,
To which the woods shall answer, and theyr eccho ring.

Authorship

Confirmed with The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, Volume V, edited by Francis J. Child, London: Imprinted for William Ponsonbie, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the Signe of the Bishops Head, 1591.

Note from text:
Wull, will.

Modernized spelling used in Vaughan Williams's music:

Now all is done; bring home the bride again,
bring home the triumph of our victory,
Bring home with you the glory of her gain,
With joyance bring her and with jollity.
Never had man more joyfull day then this,
Whom Heaven would heap with bliss.
Make feast therefore now all this live long day,
This day for ever [to me] holy is,
Pour out the wine without restraint or stay,
Pour not by cups, but by [the] bellyful,
Pour out to all that will,
And sprinkle all the posts and walls with wine,
That they may sweat, and drunken be withall.
Crown ye God Bacchus with a coronal,
And Hymen also crown with wreaths of vine,
And let the Graces dance unto the rest;
For they can do it best:
The whiles the maidens do their carrol sing, 
To which the woods shall answer and their echo ring.

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Gustav Ringel

7. The bell ringers [sung text checked 1 time]

Ring ye the bels, ye yong men of the towne,
And leave your wonted labors for this day:
This day is holy; doe ye write it downe,
That ye for ever it remember may.
[ ... ]
Ring ye the bels to make it weare away, And bonefiers make all day; And daunce about them, and about them sing, That all the woods may answer, and your eccho ring.

Authorship

Confirmed with The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, Volume V, edited by Francis J. Child, London: Imprinted for William Ponsonbie, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the Signe of the Bishops Head, 1591.

Notes from text:
Barnaby the bright. The difference between the old and new style at the time this poem was written was ten days. The summer solstice therefore fell on St. Barnabas's day, the 11th of June. C.

Modernized spelling used in Vaughan Williams's music:

Ring ye the bells, ye young men of the Town,
And leave your wonted labours for this day.
This day is holy; Do ye write it down,
that ye for ever it remember may.
...
Ring ye the bells, to make it wear away,
And bonfires make all day,
And dance about them, and about them sing:
that all the woods may answer, and your echo ring.

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Gustav Ringel

8. The lover's song [sung text checked 1 time]

Ah! when will this long weary day have end,
And lende me leave to come unto my Love?
How slowly do the houres theyr numbers spend? 
How slowly does sad Time his feathers move?
Hast thee, O fayrest planet, to thy home,
Within the Westerne fome:
Thy tyred steedes long since have need of rest.
Long though it be, at last I see it gloome, 
And the bright evening-star with golden creast
Appeare out of the East.
Fayre childe of beauty! glorious lampe of love!
That all the host of heaven in rankes doost lead,
And guidest lovers through the nights sad dread, 
How chearefully thou lookest from above,
And seemst to laugh atweene thy twinkling light,
As ioying in the sight
Of these glad many, which for ioy do sing, 
That all the woods them answer, and their eccho ring!

Authorship

Confirmed with The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, Volume V, edited by Francis J. Child, London: Imprinted for William Ponsonbie, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the Signe of the Bishops Head, 1591.

Modernized spelling used in Vaughan Williams's music:

Ah! When will this long weary day have end,
and lend me leave to come unto my love? 
How slowly do the hours their numbers spend?
How slowly does sad Time his feathers move?
Haste thee O fairest Planet to thy home
Within the Western foam:
Thy tired steeds long since have need of rest.
Long tho‘ it be, at last I see it gloom,
And the bright evening star with golden crest
Appear out of the East.
Fair child of beauty, glorious lamp of love
That all the host of Heaven in ranks dost lead,  
And guidest lovers thro‘ the night's sad dread,
How cheerfully thou lookest from above,
And seem‘st to laugh atween thy twinkling light
As joying in the sight
Of these glad many which for joy do sing,
That all the woods them answer and their echo ring.


Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Gustav Ringel

9. The minstrel's song

Note: this is a multi-text setting


Now welcome, Night! thou night so long expected,
That long daies labour doest at last defray, 
And all my cares, which cruell Love collected,
Hast sumd in one, and cancelled for aye.
Spread thy broad wing over my Love and me,
That no man may us see; 
And in thy sable mantle us enwrap,
From feare of perrill and foule horror free.
[ ... ]

Authorship

Confirmed with The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, Volume V, edited by Francis J. Child, London: Imprinted for William Ponsonbie, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the Signe of the Bishops Head, 1591.

Modernized spelling used in Vaughan Williams's music:

Now welcome night! thou night so long expected,
That long day's labour dost at last defray,
And all my cares, which cruel love collected,
Hast summed in one, and cancellèd for aye:
Spread thy broad wing over my love and me,   
that no man may us see,
And in thy sable mantle us enwrap,
From fear of peril and foul horror free...

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Gustav Ringel


But let stil Silence trew night-watches keepe,
That sacred Peace may in assurance rayne,
And tymely Sleep, when it is tyme to sleepe,
May poure his limbs forth on your pleasant playne.
[ ... ]

Authorship

See other settings of this text.

Confirmed with The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, Volume V, edited by Francis J. Child, London: Imprinted for William Ponsonbie, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the Signe of the Bishops Head, 1591.

Modernized spelling used in Vaughan Williams's music (The minstrel's song):

But let still Silence true night watches keep,
That sacred peace may in assurance reign,
And timely sleep, when it is time to sleep,
May pour his limbs forth on your pleasant plain...

Modernized spelling used in Vaughan William's music (Song of the winged loves):

The whiles an hundred little wingèd loves,
Like divers fethered doves,
Shall fly and flutter round about your bed,    
And in the secret dark, that none reproves
Their pretty stealths shall work, and snares shall spread
To filch away sweet snatches of delight,
Concealed through covert night.

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Gustav Ringel

10. Song of the winged loves [sung text checked 1 time]

[ ... ]
The whiles an hundred little winged Loves, Like divers-fethered doves, Shall fly and flutter round about the bed, And in the secret darke, that none reproves, Their prety stealthes shall worke, and snares shall spread To filch away sweet snatches of delight, Conceald through covert night.
[ ... ]

Authorship

See other settings of this text.

Confirmed with The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, Volume V, edited by Francis J. Child, London: Imprinted for William Ponsonbie, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the Signe of the Bishops Head, 1591.

Modernized spelling used in Vaughan Williams's music (The minstrel's song):

But let still Silence true night watches keep,
That sacred peace may in assurance reign,
And timely sleep, when it is time to sleep,
May pour his limbs forth on your pleasant plain...

Modernized spelling used in Vaughan William's music (Song of the winged loves):

The whiles an hundred little wingèd loves,
Like divers fethered doves,
Shall fly and flutter round about your bed,    
And in the secret dark, that none reproves
Their pretty stealths shall work, and snares shall spread
To filch away sweet snatches of delight,
Concealed through covert night.

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Gustav Ringel

11. Prayer to Juno

Note: this is a multi-text setting


And thou, great Iuno! which with awful might 
The lawes of wedlock still dost patronize,
And the religion of the faith first plight
With sacred rites hast taught to solemnize,
[ ... ]
Eternally bind thou this lovely band, And all thy blessings unto us impart.
[ ... ]

Authorship

Confirmed with The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, Volume V, edited by Francis J. Child, London: Imprinted for William Ponsonbie, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the Signe of the Bishops Head, 1591.

Modernized spelling used in Vaughan Williams's music:

And thou great Juno! which with awful might
the laws of wedlock still dost patronise,
And the religion of the faith first plight
With sacred rites hast taught to solemnize:
...
Eternally bind thou this lovely band,
And all thy blessings unto us impart.

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Gustav Ringel


[ ... ]
Then I thy soverayne prayses loud wil sing, That all the woods shal answer, and theyr eccho ring.

Authorship

See other settings of this text.

Confirmed with The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, Volume V, edited by Francis J. Child, London: Imprinted for William Ponsonbie, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the Signe of the Bishops Head, 1591.

Note from text:
Lifull, life-full.

Modernized spelling used in Vaughan Williams's music (The calling of the bride):

Now is my love all ready forth to come:
Let all the virgins therefore well await:
And ye fresh boys that tend upon her groom
Prepare yourselves; for he is coming straight.
Set all your things in seemly good array
Fit for so joyful day:
The joyfulst day that ever sun did see.
Fair Sun, show forth thy favourable ray,
And let thy liful heat not fervent be
For fear of burning her sunshiny face,
Her beauty to disgrace.
O fairest Phoebus! father of the Muse!
If ever I did honour thee aright,
Or sing the thing that mote thy mind delight,
Do not thy servant's simple boon refuse,
But let this day, let this one day be mine,
Let all the rest be thine.
Then I thy sovereign praises loud will sing,
That all the woods shall answer and their echo ring.

Modernized spelling used in Vaughan Williams's music (Prayer to Juno):

Then I thy sovereign praises loud will sing,
That all the woods shall answer and their echo ring.

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Gustav Ringel