Monday, June 22, 2009

Missa pro Defunctis: Sicut Cervus (An alternate Tract)

From Giovanni Viannini, a recording of Sicut Cervus, which is an alternate Tract for the Mass for the Dead (although I'm actually not sure if this is the form used, or if there was another). There are several online references to this (although it is not included in the Wikimedia article on the Requiem Mass); this site says:
The text of Sicut cervus directly quotes the Psalm text in its imagery: "As the deer thirsts for the waters, so my soul longs for Thee, O God!" The Psalmist's words remain completely pertinent to the Christian adaptation, as a soul cries over its own complete emptiness and parched nature without the nourishment of water. Its very music almost embodies this thirst, as it alternates between passages of more melodically bound stasis (known within the traditions of chanted psalmody) and more passionate melismas that might attempt to represent the soul's desire. Both music and text add a level of richness to an extremely solemn moment, one of two every year when new souls may be brought into the church. Pointedly, one other use that the medieval church made of Sicut cervus was during the Requiem or funeral Mass, when the soul proceeded from earth to its Promised Land.

And several composers - Ockeghem, Josquin, and Brahms, for three - have included the Sicut Cervus in their own Requiems, so I include it here as well.

The words come from Psalm 42 (below is the Coverdale translation):

Sicut cervus desiderat ad fontes aquarum, ita desiderat anima mea ad te, Deus.
Sitivit anima mea ad Deum, Deum vivum; quando veniam et apparebo ante faciem Dei?
Fuerunt mihi lacrimae meae panis die ac nocte, dum dicitur mihi quotidie: "Ubi est Deus tuus?"
Like as the hart desireth the waterbrooks :
so longeth my soul after thee, O God.
My soul is athirst for God, yea, even for the living God :
when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?
My tears have been my meat day and night :
while they daily say unto me, Where is now thy God?

Here are links to posts on this blog, for all the movements of the Requiem mass:


Alfonso Gª. Nuño said...

At the moment it is sung post VII lectionem ad Vigiliam Paschalem and, in my opinion, it isn´t properly about a modus eighth but the primitive modus of re. Pardon by my English.

bls said...

Thanks very much for the information. Your English is fine.

Alfonso Gª. Nuño said...

I believe that it is interesting that this psalm ad Vigiliam Paschalem is also sung in the missa pro defunctis. This gives a very special meaning to this chant in this Mass.Thanks for your hospitality.

bls said...

I agree with you - although I am not sure it's sung anymore. It seems to have been done during the Middle Ages, and perhaps not much since then.

You are always very welcome.


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