The Long Day Closes (Sullivan arr. Sparke)
Before Sullivan (1842-1900) began his hugely successful
collaboration with W. S. Gilbert on their famous series of operettas, he wrote
much instrumental, chamber and orchestral music, church anthems and around 20
secular part songs.
In 1868, he published a set of Seven Part Songs
for male voice choir, two of which had bespoke lyrics by H. F. Chorley
(1808-1872). Of these, The Long Day Closes has endured in the
popular repertoire of many male voice and mixed choirs. The words are somewhat
morbid, likening the dark hours at the end of the day to the dark days as one
nears death and feels that one’s life’s work is done; but perhaps despite this
rather austere mood, the melody is justly popular because of its combination of
hushed hymn-like reverence and emotional intensity.