"Draw On, Sweet Night" is a madrigal
for six voices
by John Wilbye
. It was first published
in The Second Set of Madrigales to 3, 4, 5, and 6 Parts
The piece is lilting, with dark, rich tones. It conveys melancholy very well, which comes as no surprise, as Wilbye is often ranked as the greatest madrigal composer of all time. It is one of a very small number of madrigals that include augmented chord structures, a technique that is advanced for its period.
This piece is very dear to my heart. As someone with Seasonal Affective Disorder, the depressions that settle over me in the long nights of winter often provoke me to speak to the night itself, as this madrigal does, to share with one who may understand those cares that arise from painful melancholy.
The lyrics go something like this.
Draw On, Sweet Night
Draw on, sweet night, best friend unto those cares
That do arise from painful melancholy.
My life so ill through want of comfort fares,
That unto thee I consecrate it wholly.
Sweet night, draw on! My griefs when they be told
To shades and darkness find some ease from paining.
And while thou all in silence dost enfold,
I then shall have best time for my complaining.