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This arrangement was published in "a supplement.... .of some favourite pieces composed by old, and approved masters (to which, he hath added parts, for the sake of enriching the harmony)" by William Hayes in 1765, and was dedicated by him to the "worthy members of the Catch-Club, or Phil-Harmonic Society, at the King's-Head Tavern in Oxford". The song originally appeared in Dryden's semi-opera King Arthur.

Lyrics: John Dryden

Fairest isle, all isles excelling,
Seat of pleasure and of love;
Venus here will choose her dwelling,
And forsake her Cyprian grove.
Cupid from his fav'rite nation
Care and envy will remove;
Jealousy, that poisons passion,
And despair, that dies for love.

Gentle murmurs, sweet complaining,
Sighs that blow the fire of love;
Soft repulses, kind disdaining,
Shall be all the pains you prove.
Ev'ry swain shall pay his duty,
Grateful ev'ry nymph shall prove;
And as these excel in beauty,
Those shall be renown'd for love.

Henry Purcell
(1659 - 1695)

Purcell : Fairest isle : illustration


Fairest isle

(T.T.B.)

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