Order of the Cynthian Palm

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David W. Solomons, counter-tenorThough the last written, the "Fantasia on the Willow Song" is the middle movement of the "Symphonies on Ancient Tunes". Unlike the other two movements, the original tune is, here, sung at the beginning and end of the Fantasia by David W. Solomons with my own accompaniments each time, although it is performable in purely orchestral form if need be.

The words and music of the Willow Song are both by that great and prolific poet and composer, Anonymous, and appear to date from the early 17th century. Shakespeare famously quotes the poem in his "Othello" with a gender change. It is sung by Desdemona before she is murdered by Othello.

The poor soul sat sighing
by a sycamore tree,
Sing O the green willow.
With his hand in his bosom
and his head upon his knee,
Oh willow, willow, willow, willow.
Oh willow, willow, willow, willow
My garland shall be.
Sing O the green willow.
Willow, willow, willow
I mean the green willow
My garland shall be.
He sighed to his singing
and made a great moan,
Sing O the green willow.
I am dead to all pleasure,
my true love is gone.
Oh willow, willow, willow, willow (etc.)
Take this for my farewell
and latest adieu,
Sing O the green willow.
Write this on my tomb,
that in love I was true.
Oh willow, willow, willow, willow (etc.)
(This last stanza is not used in this setting.)

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