This is one of the tiny Purcelllian gems that see the light all too rarely. ‘Close thine eyes and sleep secure’ is a devotional song intended for domestic as well as public performance. Its text is a biblical paraphrase by Francis Quarles and is one of twelve of Purcell’s devotional songs published in 1688 in Harmonia Sacra. Purcell’s setting for soprano and bass ia a beautifully balanced and restrained piece of writing with some marvellous harmonisation and one brief outbreak of jauntiness at ‘The music and the mirth of kings’ which is supressed out of hand for being ‘out of tune’ and serenity returns to ensure that the sweet and secure sleep is assured. You can hear it sung below by Susan Gritton (soprano), Michael George (bass). Enjoy :-)
Text: Close thine eyes and sleep secure Z184
Close thine eyes and sleep secure;
Thy soul is safe, thy body sure;
He that guards thee, he thee keeps,
Who never slumbers, never sleeps.
A quiet conscience in a quiet breast
Has only peace, has only rest:
The music and the mirth of kings
Are out of tune unless she sings;
Then close thine eyes in peace and rest secure,
No sleep so sweet as thine, no rest so sure.
Francis Quarles (1592-1644)
Performers: Susan Gritton (soprano), Michael George (bass)