In this choral nocturne, the composer has taken verses by three different poets which she felt to be linked very closely in the feeling as well as in subject. The phrase ‘‘Will you come?’’ links the first poem by William Barnes to the Second by Edward Thomas. In the Shelley poem it becomes ‘‘Come soon’’. The approach of night, which gives all three poems their nocturnal feeling, is gradual; evening begins to approach at the end of the Barns poem; the Edward Thomas is a real twilight poem, with flashes of sights and sounds half seen and heard, and then night slowly falls in the Shelley poem.
To quote the composer, ‘‘I have treated these three poems like the three panels of a triptych-three contrasted pieces which are one at the same time linked by the subject matter and by technical means.’’
'Nocturnal' was commissioned by W D and H O Wills for the Cork International Choral Festival and first performed by Morley College Choir conducted by Graham Treacher on 22 May 1966 at the Festival.