The decision to orchestrate both songs for tenor on texts by Jacques Perk (RC 13 and RC 51) dates back to November 1902. At the initiative of Jos Tijssen (1871-1923), a lyric tenor of exceptional merit who was heading for an international career in the opera, Diepenbrock started orchestrating the Abendmahlshymne “Wenige wissen das Geheimnis der Liebe” (Hymn of the Last Supper ‘Few Know the Secret of Love, RC 58).
Arranging Avondzang (Evening Song) took over a week and was completed on 27 March 1903. The orchestration of Zij sluimert (She Slumbers, RC 60) followed immediately. Diepenbrock bound the autograph scores of these compositions and that of the Abendmahlshymne together in one volume, with on its cover: Drie liederen voor Tenoor met Orkestbegeleiding (Three Songs for Tenor with Orchestral Accompaniment).
At the end of 1903 Diepenbrock suggested that Willem Mengelberg would perform this set of three at the concert in the spring of 1904 at which his Vondels vaart naar Agrippine (Vondel’s Voyage to Agrippine, RC 64) would be premiered. (BD IV:156) Mengelberg was taken with the idea, but in the end it fell through due to difficulties booking a good singer, because by then Tijssen was working for the City Theatre in Hamburg. Both Mengelberg and Diepenbrock considered Johan Rogmans, who was a renowned oratorio singer, less suitable. (BD IV:164)
As far as we know the orchestrated version of Avondzang was never performed during Diepenbrock’s lifetime. His friend W.G. Hondius van den Broek, in whose letters Perk is often mentioned, regretted this too:
I also think your Avondzang is so striking. Especially in the terza rimas: “Zomernacht doet droomen” (Summer night causes dreams), which is full of the heartfelt delight of a summer night; I would like to hear that by orchestra as well sometime. (BD V:278)