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The hours creep on apace

Opera details:

Opera title:

H.M.S. Pinafore


Arthur Sullivan




H.M.S. Pinafore Synopsis


H.M.S. Pinafore Libretto


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Aria details:









Previous scene: Fair moon to thee I sing
Next scene: A many years ago

The Hours creep on apace

Singer: Valerie Masterson

Valerie Masterson as Josephine sings the Act 2 song "The hours creep on apace" from H.M.S. Pinafore by Gilbert & Sullivan.

Valerie Masterson is simply the best Josephine on record, but the 1971 D'Oyly Carte recording was so busy showing off it's 'Phase 4 Stereo' credentials that the performances didn't always come off.
Valerie sounds far more at ease in this track from the 1982 EMI album 'Valerie Masterson and Robert Tear sing Gilbert & Sullivan' with the Bournemouth Sinfonietta conducted by Kenneth Alwyn. She shades perfectly the contrasts between high and lowly living in the first part of the song and then rises to a thrilling finish with glorious top notes and glowing tone.

Annoyingly, this is one of the tracks from that album that has never been released on CD, so for those of you who don't play vinyl, enjoy!

Watch videos with other singers performing The hours creep on apace:


The hours creep on apace,
My guilty heart is quaking!
Oh, that I might retrace
The step that I am taking!
Its folly it were easy to be showing,
What I am giving up and whither going.
On the one hand, papa's luxurious home,
Hung with ancestral armour and old brasses,
Carved oak and tapestry from distant Rome,
Rare "blue and white" Venetian finger-glasses,
Rich oriental rugs, luxurious sofa pillows,
And everything that isn't old, from Gillow's.
And on the other, a dark and dingy room,
In some back street with stuffy children crying,
Where organs yell, and clacking housewives fume,
And clothes are hanging out all day a-drying.
With one cracked looking-glass to see your face in,
And dinner served up in a pudding basin!

A simple sailor, lowly born,
Unlettered and unknown,
Who toils for bread from early morn
Till half the night has flown!
No golden rank can he impart--
No wealth of house or land--
No fortune save his trusty heart
And honest brown right hand!
And yet he is so wondrous fair
That love for one so passing rare,
So peerless in his manly beauty,
Were little else than solemn duty!
Oh, god of love, and god of reason, say,
Which of you twain shall my poor heart obey!

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