Purcell: “Tell me, some pitying angel…”, Z 196 (Christine Brandes; Rachel Elliott)
The Blessed Virgin’s Expostulation, “Tell me, some pitying angel…”, Z 196 [Z means Zimmerman catalogue]. Composed by Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695). Beautifully sung by Christine Brandes in a 1994 recording (Harmonia Mundi 907167) conducted by Nicholas McGegan.
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The Blessed Virgin’s Expostulation
Tell me, tell me, some, some pitying angel,
Tell quickly, quickly, quickly say,
Where, where does my soul’s sweet darling stray,
In tiger’s or more cruel, more cruel cruel Herod’s way?
Ah, ah rather, rather let his little, little footsteps press
Unregarded through the wilderness,
Where milder, milder, where milder savages resort,
The desert’s safer, the desert’s safer than a tyrant’s court.
Why, why, fairest object of my love,
Why, why dost thou from my longing eyes remove?
Was it, was it a waking dream that did fortell thy wondrous birth,
Thy wondrous, wondrous birth?
No vision, no, no vision from above?
Where’s Gabriel, where’s Gabriel now that visited my cell?
I call, I call, I call: Gabriel! Gabriel!
He comes not.
Flatt’ring, flatt’ring hopes, farewell flatt’ring hopes, farewell.
Me Judah’s daughters once caress’d,
Call’d me of mothers the most, the most bless’d.
Now fatal change, of mothers most distress’d.
How, how shall my soul its motions guide?
How, how shall I stem the various, various tide,
Whilst faith and doubt my lab’ring soul divide?
For whilst of thy dear, dear sight beguil’d,
I trust the God, but oh! I fear, but oh! I fear the child.
 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.  And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.  And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.  But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.  And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.  And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.  And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.  And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.  And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?  And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.  And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.  And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
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