The works of John Dowland

A Musicall Banquet

Musicall Banquet

A Musicall Banquet is published by Robert Dowland, but three of the pieces within this work are written by his father, John Dowland.

These three pieces are:


Farre from triumphing Court

Structure: G-major, 4/4, 4 St.
Comment: In 1708 Queen Anne, consort of James I, visited Sir Henry Lee and his mistress, Mrs Anne Vavasour, to whom the Queen made a present of a "very fayre jewell". Ths poem commemorates that visit.

Farre from triumphing Court and wonted glory,
He dwelt in shadie vnfrequented places,
Times prisoner now he made his pastime story,
Gladly forgets Courts erst afforded graces,
That Goddesse whom hee serude to heau'n is gone,
And hee on earth, In darknesse left to moane.

But loe a glorious light from his darke rest,
Shone from the place where erst this Goddesse dwelt,
A light whose beames the world with fruit hath blest,
Blest was the Knight while hee that light beheld :
Since then a starre fixed on his head hath shinde,
And a Saints Image in his hart is shrinde.

Rauisht with ioy so grac't by such a Saint,
He quite forgat his Cell and selfe denaid,
He thought it shame in thankfulnesse to faint,
Debts due to Princes must be duly paid :
Nothing so hatefull to a noble minde,
As finding kindnesse for to proue vnkinde.

But ah poore Knight though thus in dreame he ranged,
Hoping to serue this Saint in sore most meete,
Tyme with his golden locks to siluer changed
Hath with age fetters bound him hands and feete,
Aye mee, hee cryes, Goddesse my limbs grow faint,
Though I times prisoner be, be you my Saint. 

Lady if you so spight me

Structure: C-minor, 4/4, 1 St.
Comment: The usual complaining lover, in this case loaded with double meanings (spill, die), and a highly original setting. Words from Yonge´s Musica Transalpina, 1588, set by Ferrabosco the elder.

Lady if you so spight me,
Wherefore do you so oft kisse and delight me ?
Sure that my hart opprest and ouercloyed,
May breake thus ouerioyed,
If you seeke to spill mee,
Come kisse me sweet and kill mee,
So shall your hart be eased,
And I shall rest content and dye well pleased. 

In darknesse let me dwell

Structure: A-minor, 4/4, 1 St.
Comment: One of the great songs of all time, it offers many possibilities to a singer of imagination. The poem was also set by Coprario.

In darknesse let me dwell the ground shall sorrow be,
The roofe Dispaire to barre all cheerfull light from mee,
The wals of marble blacke that moistened still shall weepe,
My musicke hellish iarring sounds to banish friendly sleepe.
Thus wedded to my woes and bedded to my Tombe,
O let me liuing die, till death, till death doe come
In darknesse let me dwell.