Eamon and I had an off-site session just to rehearse the John Dowland song In Darkness Let me Dwell. This was written to be played and sung by a lutenist (the composer himself), but is usually now not sung by the player. There is a consort version for viols too, as with his famous Lachrymae. With Eamon’s indulgence I will sing our version accompanied by a viol on the bass line supporting the lute. An advantage of adding a viol is that it is a very nice resonance to sing with, especially if you are wrapped around the thing as you sing. The song is extraordinary in its intensity and chromaticism; it took us a few passes to be sure we were playing the right notes (and to fix the ones that weren’t!) but it’s a real gothic gem. The poem is anonymous, about 1600, and Dowland’s setting from 1610.
In darkness let me dwell; the ground shall sorrow be,
The roof despair, to bar all cheerful light from me;
The walls of marble black, that moist’ned still shall weep;
My music, hellish jarring sounds, to banish friendly sleep.
Thus, wedded to my woes, and bedded in my tomb,
O let me living die, till death doth come, till death doth come.
Dowland is comemmorated locally with this mosaic in Sorrento Park, being believed to have come from Dalkey.
- Malachy 7/5/16