This is truly beautiful.
Purcell is one of my favourite composers, and this sort of music, that floats sweetly and delicately along, with gentle little ornaments just drifting in effortlessly is a delight both to sing and to listen to. So soothing… just what you need on a Monday morning, yes?
Also, while you are sitting there listening to beautiful voices and being soothed, you suddenly hear something about snakes dropping from someone’s hair, which wakes you up nicely just in time for the extra ornamentation on the repeat. In case you were wondering, I believe the snakes in question are actually supposed to be in Alecto’s hair, since she is one of the three furies (the one who is unceasing in anger, to be precise).
So you don’t have to worry about some poor woman having snakes in her hair. Instead you can worry about some poor Greek hero being chased by a rather scary trio of demi-goddesses who are armed with whips, snakey hair, bat-wings and many other fun things. I feel better already…
Oh alright, here are the full lyrics:
Music for a while shall all your cares beguile, wondering how your pains were eased and disdaining to be pleased til Alecto free the dead from their eternal bonds, til the snakes drop from her hair and the whip from out her hand… Music for a while shall all your cares beguile.
To be quite honest, I’m not entirely sure how to parse that, beyond the first phrase. Any ideas?
Here’s another, somewhat slower and more wistful version, sung by counter-tenor Daniel Taylor. I’m not usually partial to countertenors, but this is rather lovely. I think I may even prefer it to the one by Carolyn Sampson.