The Constant Lover

The Constant Lover

Image: Sir John Suckling by Anthony van Dyck (detail)

Musical setting for Sir John Suckling's poem, for baritone and three recorders.  I've imagined this as a lusty Cavalier drinking song, and the melody is in fact taken from the Medieval drinking song Bacche Bene Venies.  I've appropriated the melody for the vocal pretty much whole cloth, though the instrumental variations are my own. To paraphrase what T. S. Eliot said about poets:  immature composers borrow; mature composers steal.

As always, comments welcome, especially from performers, even if a long time has passed since this was posted.

The sound file was generated with software using synth choral ah voices as a demo, even though the vocal is supposed to be solo.

Score and audio available on

Musescore: Jon Corelis The Constant Lover


YouTube:  Jon Corelis The Constant Lover

Please note that while this composition is based on a poem in the public domain, my musical setting of it is an original creative work under copyright. You may feel free to share or link to it by the usual means. For performance permission, please see my permissions page.

The lyrics:

Out upon it, I have loved 
three whole days together! And am like to love three more, 
if it prove fair weather. 

Time shall moult away his wings 
ere he shall discover 
in the whole wide world again 
such a constant lover. 

But the spite on't is, no praise 
is due at all to me: 
Love with me had made no stays, 
had it any been but she. 

Had it any been but she, 
and that very face, 
there had been at least ere this 
a dozen dozen in her place.

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  • Nice... I much appreciate your reaching in to history for source material and inspiration.

    The lyric fits well with melody and the harmonies work well enough.

    I kept expecting more variation... specifically, I think it would be refreshing to have at least one verse in 6/8. Those dotted figures seem to suggest that might be coming.

    The ending was a bit abrupt and off-hand for my taste.

    Thank you for sharing!

  • Thanks for the comments. I'm always revising, and I'll keep them in mind.

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