John Dowland: Flow my tears (Lachrimae); Phoebe Jevtovic Rosquist, soprano & David Tayler, lute

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Dowland’s signature song, “Flow my tears, fall from your springs,” performed by Phoebe Jevtovic Rosquist, soprano, and David Tayler, archlute.
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Live, HD video from the “Saturday Night at the Movies” concert presented by the Early Music ensemble Voices of Music, January, 2014, in San Francisco.
Dowland’s song, also know as “Lachrimae”, which means “tears” in Latin, was the most famous English song of the early 17th century and was well-known throughout Europe–many composers wrote variations on Dowland’s theme and harmonies. The first four notes of the melody form the bass part for Dowland’s song, “I saw my lady weep,” both works were published in the Second book of Ayres (London, 1600).
The poem is the subject of many articles. My own view is that “night’s black bird” refers to the Greek goddess Nyx, the black-winged goddess of the night and one of the “protogenoi” (first-born elemental gods). In one creation myth, Nyx was born from Chaos, and her symbols were the bird and shadows–the shadow theme appears at the end of the poem as well as in Dowland’s other works. According to the philosophy of the time, tears were also a symbol of lost hope (“are my hopes since hope is gone”), and this sentiment is described by Thomas Hobbes in 1658, even as the idea of “humours” was falling out of favor.

Once a year, Voices of Music invites early music groups to participate in a day of filming in San Francisco. You provide the music, we provide the cameras, and we all watch the magic.
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