His Winding Sheet

Composed for the Choir of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Eilse Smith

Premièred at the Cheltenham Festival July 1997

For solo Soprano and SATB Choir (Sopranos divisi)

Text

His Winding-sheet (Poem by Robert Herrick (1591–1674) No. 515 from Hesperides) 

COME thou, who are the wine and wit

     Of all I've writ:              

The grace, the glory, and the best    

      Piece of the rest.            

Thou art of what I did intend                   

      The all and end;            

And what was made, was made to meet       

      Thee, thee, my sheet.   

Come then and be to my chaste side             

      Both bed and bride:       

We two, as reliques left, will have    

      Once rest, one grave:   

And hugging close, we will not fear 

      Lust entering here:        

Where all desires are dead and cold 

      As is the mould;            

And all affections are forgot,           

      Or trouble not.               

Here, here, the slaves and prisoners be           

      From shackles free:        

And weeping widows long oppress'd               

      Do here find rest.          

The wrongèd client ends his laws     

      Here, and his cause.     

Here those long suits of Chancery lie             

      Quiet, or die:  

And all Star-Chamber bills do cease               

      Or hold their peace.      

Here needs no Court for our Request             

      Where all are best,        

All wise, all equal, and all just          

      Alike i' th' dust.              

Nor need we here to fear the frown 

      Of court or crown:        

Where fortune bears no sway o'er things,      

      There all are kings.       

In this securer place we'll keep         

      As lull'd asleep;             

Or for a little time we'll lie  

      As robes laid by;             

To be another day re-worn,              

      Turn'd, but not torn:    

Or like old testaments engross'd,      

      Lock'd up, not lost.       

And for a while lie here conceal'd,     

      To be reveal'd

Next at the great Platonick year,     

      And then meet here.     

Note:  “Platonick year” is the perfect or cyclic year, when the sun, moon, and five planets end their revolutions together and start again.

 

On Himself (Poem by Robert Herrick – No. 519 from Hesperides.

 

Born I was to meet with age,

And to walk life's pilgrimage.

Much I know of time is spent,

Tell I can't what's resident.

 

Howsoever, cares, adieu!

I'll have nought to say to you:

But I'll spend my coming hours

Drinking wine and crown'd with flowers.