Serenade to Music

Ralph Vaughan Williams
words by William Shakespeare
from Act 5 Scene 1 in
"The Merchant of Venice"

How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
Here will we sit and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears: soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.
Look how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold:
There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins;
Such harmony is in immortal souls;
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it. Come, ho! and wake Diana with a hymn!
With sweetest touches pierce your mistress' ear,
And draw her home with music.

I am never merry when I hear sweet music.

The reason is, your spirits are attentive:

The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,

Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;

The motions of his spirit are dull as night
And his affections dark as Erebus:

Let no such man be trusted.

Music! Hark!

It is your music of the house.

Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.

Silence bestows that virtue on it.

How many things by season season'd are
To their right praise and true perfection!

Peace, ho! the moon sleeps with Endymion
And would not be awaked. Soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.
Sweet harmony.