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The hours creep on apace - No. 15, Scena
from Act II of the English opera H.M.S. Pinafore by Arthur Sullivan
Libretto: W.S. Gilbert

Role: Josephine, the daughter of the captain of the Pinafore, in love with Ralph, promised in marriage to Sir Joseph
Voice Part: soprano       Fach: soubrette
Setting: quarterdeck of the H.M.S. Pinafore at night, anchored off Portsmouth, England, late 1800's
Synopsis: Josephine compares and contrasts the two men she must decide between. On one hand, she can marry Sir Joseph, an old man who is the ruler of the Navy, in which case her life would always be luxurious and comfortable. However, she does not love Sir Joseph. The man she loves is a sailor on board the Pinafore. However, marrying him would mean risking her father's wrath and living the rest of her days poor and in the lower class.
Range: Tessitura:
D4 - C6G4 - G5
Translations/Aria Texts:
Libretto entered by Gilbert and Sullivan Archive (added 2000-07-24)
The hours creep on apace, Josephine's aria from HMS Pinafore

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!
Sheet Music/Scores:
The Ultimate Soprano Aria Album (Version 2.0). Published by CD Sheet Music. Available at and
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