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Sample pagesfor mixed choir (SATB div) a cappella
Text: English (Christopher Marlowe)
Duration: 4'30''
Difficulty: 4/5
Use: Wedding, Civil Ceremony, Love

Written as a wedding present for two of the composer’s friends, Come live with me sets Christopher Marlowe’s archetype of the late renaissance ‘Pastoral Style’, The Passionate Shepherd to His Love. As a nod to the great traditions of Elizabethan and Victorian partsong writing, this setting is predominantly homophonic. Taking an A-B-A-coda structure, the sweeping melody of the opening section (rising and falling like “craggy mountains”) is later reprieved in a more luscious harmonization, and continues to form the basis of the soprano and tenor duet during the coda. In the B section (“There will I make thee beds of roses”) the texture elaborates to more contrapuntal lines of dialogue between upper and lower voices, with the passion reaching a understated zenith in the soprano 1 and tenor 1 rhapsodic rising duet, under which the parts twine themselves around each other like “leave of myrtle”. An imaginative setting, closely allied with the text, Come live with me is an exciting addition to the contemporary repertoire of choral music on the theme of love.


Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That hills and valleys, dale and field,
And all the craggy mountains yield.

There will we sit upon the rocks
And see the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

There will I make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
And a cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle.

Christopher Marlowe
A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull,
And fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;

A belt of straw and ivy buds
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my love.

The shepherd swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May-morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.

Richard Wilberforce
Originally from London, Richard studied at the University of Cambridge and the Royal College of Music, and now shares his time between France and the UK, where he holds a conducting and teaching position at the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional de Paris, chorus masters the Leeds Philharmonic Chorus and fulfils his role as Composer-in-Residence with Trinity Boys Choir. His works are performed globally and have been recorded and broadcast by a number of leading choirs. For many years he was conductor of the Exon Singers and Director of the Hallé Youth Choir, and has conducted many of the UK’s and France’s foremost choirs. After an early success with the BBC Proms Young Composer Competition, Richard made composition the main focus of his time at Cambridge University, where he studied with Robin Holloway and Giles Swayne. His passion for writing for voices has been influenced by his first career as a countertenor, and one of his guiding ambitions as a composer is to write vocal lines that are rewarding for singers to sing, and melodies that are infectious!

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