London, South Kensington
30 October 1992
SAMUEL JOHNSON (1709-84)
'Evening, a favorite ballad by Haydn, the words by Dr. Johnson', an engraved musical broadsheet, Dublin, by E. Rhames, [1765 or later], the lyric beginning: 'Ev'ning now with purple wings, sheds the grateful gifts she brings ....'
This apparently unrecorded text shows considerable differences from the text as printed and frequently reprinted. The poem first appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine for January 1750 as 'An Evening Ode to Stella'. The original scheme of 11 couplets though suited to a short ode was not suitable for a lyric. So apparently Johnson must in deference to Haydn have recast it in 3 six-line stanzas. It is not recorded in Courtney & Smith and there is no copy of the song in the British Museum ... while the ode is quite undistinguished, the lyric has its charm and the changes are all for the better.
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