Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/615

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Before descending further the stream of English 'Song,' it were well to remind the reader that the custom of poets in the i6th and 1 7th centuries to write new words to favourite old tunes has made it very difficult, if not impossible, to assign precise dates to many ballads. Thus, in Sir Philip Sidney's poems the heading, ' To the air of ' etc., often an Italian or French air, constantly recurs ; and many of the ballad tunes were sung to three or four sets of words, which were of dif- ferent dates, and had little or nothing in common with one another. Among songs to be found in the principal collections of the first half of the 1 7th century, the tune of ' Cheerily and merrily' was afterwards sung to George Herbert's ' Sweet day,' and is better known by its later name. ' Stingo, or oil of barley,' ' The country lass/ and ' Cold and raw,' had all the same tune. Such was the case also with ' When the stormy winds do blow' and 'You gentlemen of England,' and in many another instance.

From the outbreak of the Civil War until the Restoration music languished in England. The Protectorate sanctioned only the practice of uni- sonous metrical psalmody ; though ballads of the time of the Commonwealth (1649-1659) have been preserved, and among them are ' Love lies bleeding,' 'When the King enjoys his own again,' and ' I would I were in my own country.' The Restoration of the Stuarts in 1660 introduced a great change, and during the last forty years of the 1 7th century a lighter and more melodious kind of music than England had previously heard was in vogue. For Charles II. in his exile had grown fond of French dance music, which was not composed on the church scales, as the Eng- lish 'Fancies,' etc. were; and with this new taste he infected his kingdom. Ballads too came into popular favour again, as the King was partial to lively tunes and strongly marked rhythm. The cultivation of music became so general that even domestic servants could sing at sight ; and taverns ceased to be the only places of musical entertain-

��ment. Banister's Concerts at the end of 1672 have been already noticed [vol. i. p. 1346] and a vocal concert was first heard without the ac- cessories of ale and tobacco in 1681, at a public concert-room in Villiers Street, York Buildings. The concerts of Thos. Britton ' The Small-coal man' also took place towards the end of this century. [Vol. i. p. 277 a.] Of the abundant ballads of this period the most celebrated per- haps are 'Here's a health unto His Majesty,' ' Come lasses and lads,' 'Barbara Allen,' 'Under the greenwood tree,' 'Dulce Domurn,' Lilli- burlero,' and ' May Fair,' now better known as 'Golden slumbers.' It should be noted that the educated musicians of England were about this time very much under the influence of the Italian and French schools. The style of Pel- ham Humphrey (born in 1647), whom Charles II. sent to France to study under Lully, was entirely founded on that of his teacher ; and on his return to England Humphrey effected a revolution in English music. Some of the results obtained by his work are described by Mr. Hul- lah in the following passage : ' In place of the overlapping phrases of the old masters, growing out of one another like the different members of a Gothic tower, we have masses of harmony sub- ordinated to one rhythmical idea; in place of sustained and lofty flights, we have shorter and more timorous ones these even relieved by fre- quent halts and frequent divergences ; and in lieu of repetition on presentation of a few passages under different circumstances, a continually varying adaptation of music to changing senti- ment of words, and the most fastidious observance of their emphasis and quantity.' 1 Few artists- ever exercised a more powerful influence on their countrymen and contemporaries than Humphrey, and his work was accomplished in the brief space of seven years. He returned from Paris in 1667, and died, at the early age of 27, in 1674. His song, ' I pass all my hours in a shady old grove/ which has hardly yet ceased to be sung, is a good example of his style ; and other songs by him may be found in the various collections of the time. There too are preserved the songs of a fellow-student in the Chapel Royal to whom he taught much, viz. John Blow. In 1700 Blow published by subscription a volume of his own songs under the title of 'Amphion Anglicus,* and his song 'It is not that I love you less,' shows that he was capable of both tenderness and grace in composition. Matthew Lock is also worthy of mention, for he wrote ' The delights of the bottle,* a most popular song in its day, and the honour of an elegy by Purcell was paid to him at his death in 1677.

Had Henry Purcell never written anything but songs, he would still have established his claim to be regarded as the greatest of English musicians, for upon this ground he stands alone. In dignity and grandeur, in originality and beauty he has no equal among English song-writers. After his death these were collected, under the

l Hullah'i 'Transition Period of Musical History,' p. 203L

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