Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900)
The long day closes
Words by Henry Chorley (1808-72)
The Long Day Closes is a part song by Henry Fothergill Chorley and Arthur Sullivan published in 1868. This song is one of seven part songs that Sullivan published that year, and it became Sullivan's best-known part song. Sullivan wrote most of his twenty part songs prior to the beginning of his long collaboration with W. S. Gilbert.
Chorley had also collaborated with Sullivan on other songs, on Sullivan's first (but never-produced) opera, The Sapphire Necklace (completed in 1867), and on a piece for chorus and orchestra, The Masque at Kenilworth (Birmingham Festival, 1864).
With the growth of choral societies during the Victorian era, part songs became popular in Britain (as they had earlier in Germany and elsewhere). The term "part song" is used here to mean a song written for several vocal parts, usually with the highest part carrying the melody and the other voices supplying accompanying harmonies, rather than one which is contrapuntal like a madrigal. Part songs are often sung unaccompanied.
The plaintive harmonies of The Long Day Closes and the text's touching meditation on death have made the song a frequent selection at events of mourning, and in particular it was often sung at funerals of members of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. There are at least three recordings of the song, including the instrumental arrangement at the end of the sound track of the film Topsy-Turvy called "Resolutions".