Richard John Samuel Stevens
(1757 - 1837)

The Witches' Song and Chorus
(S.A.T.B.B.Kbd.)
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Page 1 of 18
Stevens composed this piece at the request of his friend Mrs Hughes (wife of Rev Thomas Hughes, Canon of St Paul's Cathedral). She seems to have had a taste for the Gothick, keeping her house underlit at parties for dramatic effect. Stevens records performing it from manuscript for some five years before publication (in 1806), and usually as the last item of the evening: he clearly considered it a show-stealer.
Lyrics: Ben Jonson

I have been all day looking after
A raven feeding upon a quarter;
And soon as she turned her beak to the South,
I snatched this morsel out of her mouth.

I last night lay all alone
on the ground, to hear the mandrake groan;
And plucked him up, though he grew full low;
And as I had done, the cock did crow.

And I have been choosing out this skull
From charnel houses that were full;
From private grots and public pits,
And frightened a sexton out of his wits.

Under a cradle I did creep
By day, and when the child was asleep
At night I sucked the breath; and rose
And plucked the nodding nurse by the nose.

A murderer yonder was hung in chains;
The sun and the wind had shrunk his veins:
I bit off a sinew, I clipped his hair,
I brought off his rags that danced in the air.

We have brought, to aid our vows,
Horned poppy, cypress boughs,
The fig tree wild that grows on tombs
And juice that from the larch tree comes,
The basilisk's blood and the viper's skin:
Now our orgies let's begin.