Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thomas Tallis' Spem in Alium Sung by the King's Singers

In Lenten Music, Eric M. Johnson informs us that while "Tallis was regarded as an obedient English musician who adapted his religious views according to the ruler of the time, ... recent scholarship has revealed that Tallis... never swerved in his devotion to Catholicism."

The piece posted, Mr. Johnson says, "fully captures the sorrowful nature of the season," hailing it as "an extraordinarily personal statement of faith by an elderly man who witnessed decades of Christians warring against each other, and the eventual defeat of the Church he held dear." The text:
    Spem in alium nunquam habui
    praeter in te, Deus Israel,
    qui irasceris et propitius eris,
    et omnia peccata hominum
    in tribulatione dimittis.
    Domine Deus,
    creator coeli et terrae
    respice humilitatem nostram.

    I have never founded my hope
    on any other than thee. O God of Israel,
    who shalt be angry, and yet be gracious,
    and who absolvest all the sins of mankind
    in tribulation.
    Lord God,
    creator of heaven and earth,
    be mindful of our lowliness.
I have to say I find superior this full rendition of the "40-part motet" with its "[e]ight five-voice choirs weav[ing] a thick tapestry of otherworldly grace and pulsating energy," though it is tragically cut off without satisfactory explanation — Dresdner Kreuzchor - Thomanerchor Leipzig (2001) Part I.

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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.