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The Lied, Art Song, and Choral Texts Archive

The Blessed Virgin's Expostulation

Language: English

Tell me, some pitying angel, quickly say, 
Where does my soul's sweet darling [stray]1, 
In tiger's, or more cruel Herod's way? 
Ah! rather let his little footsteps press 
Unregarded through the wilderness, 
Where milder savages resort: 
The desert's safer than a tyrant's court. 
Why, fairest object of my love, 
Why dost thou from my longing eyes remove? 
Was it a waking dream that did foretell 
Thy wondrous birth? no vision from above? 
Where's Gabriel now that visited my cell? 
I call; he comes not; flatt'ring hopes, farewell. 

Me Judah's daughters once caress'd, 
Call'd me of mothers the most bless'd. 

Now (fatal change!) of mothers most distress'd. 

How shall my soul its motions guide?
How shall I stem the various tide, 
Whilst faith and doubt my lab'ring soul divide?

For whilst of thy dear sight beguil'd, 
I trust the God, but oh! I fear the child.

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Purcell: in some versions, "stay"

Submitted by Athony Burton


    * by Nahum Tate (1652 - 1715) , "The blessed virign's expostulation", subtitle: "When our Saviour, at twelve years of age, had withdrawn himself"

Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.

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