Music for Lent

Motets pour un temps de penitence

I. Timor et tremor

Timor et tremor venerunt super me,
et caligo cecidit super me:
miserere mei Domine,
quoniam in te confidit anima mea.

Exaudi Deus deprecationem meam
quia refugium meum es
tu adjutor fortis.
Domine, invocavi te, non confundar.
Fear and terror have settled upon me;
the shadows have invaded me.
Have mercy on me, Lord; have mercy.
Unto you I commend my spirit.

Hear, O Lord, my prayer,
for you are my refuge
and my succour, all-powerful Lord
and I pray Thee: let me never be confounded.

(The interrupting siren fits the text somehow :))

II. Vinea mea electa

Vinea mea electa, ego te plantavi:
quomodo conversa es in amaritudinem,
ut me crucifigeres et Barrabam dimitteres.

Sepivi te, et lapides elegi ex te,
et ædificavi turrim.
O vineyard, my chosen one! I planted you:
how are you changed from sweet to bitter,
to have crucified me and released Barrabas?

I protected you; I have removed stones that could bother you
and built a tower for your defense.

III. Tenebrae factae sunt

Tenebrae factae sunt, dum crucifixissent Jesum Judaei:
et circa horam nonam exclamavit Jesus voce magna:
Deus meus, ut quid me dereliquisti?
Et inclinato capite, emisit spiritum.

Exclamans Jesus voce magna, ait:
Pater, in manus tuas commendo spiritum meum.

Shadows covered the earth, when the Jews crucified Jesus,
and toward the ninth hour Jesus let forth a great cry, saying:
“My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”
And lowering his head, he gave up the spirit.

Jesus, crying out in a great voice, said:
“Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

IV. Tristis est anima mea

Tristis est anima mea usque ad mortem:
sustinete hic, et vigilate mecum:
nunc videbitis turbam, quæ circumdabit me:
Vos fugam capietis, et ego vadam immolari pro vobis.

Ecce appropinquat hora, et Filius hominis
tradetur in manus peccatorum.
Sad is my soul unto death:
stay here, and keep watch with me:
soon you will see a crowd of men surround me.
You shall flee, and I will go to be sacrificed for you.

Here is the approaching hour when the Son of man
will be delivered into the hands of sinful man.


  1. I wondered about that siren! I thought it was an airplane at first.

    Boy — maybe I would recommend listening to these without watching Mr. Maxim’s conducting! With his bouncey knees, his hunched-over back, and his curley-cues, I stopped paying attention to the music. Ugh.

    But thanks for posting these. I love me some Poulenc and don’t know these particular motets, so I’m looking forward to listening to the other three. Thanks.

    (By the way, is this the start of a Lenten series? Or is this all we get by way of music for the next 40 days??)

  2. Yeah, it’s definitely not a perfect performance. But it’s difficult music, so even a good performance is rare. This is a good enough performance to get an idea of what they sound like–if you like it and go looking for a recording, I’d recommend one of these:

    I don’t think I’ll manage 40 days, but there will definitely be periodic installments. It might be fun to try to find 40 Tenebrae settings…

  3. Great! Thanks. I’m embarrassed to say that I actually have the O’Donnell/Westminster recording you listed — but for some reason I must have over looked the penitence motets on it. Sheesh.

    Thanks again for the attention to this great music on the Bloggernacle. Oh, and if you’re doing additional tenebrae settings, don’t forget the Couperin “Lecons de tenebres” . . . They definitely deserve repeated listenings.

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