Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Lament for Lent: Parce Domine ("O Lord, spare thy people")

Parce Domine is a "Lenten lament" of a type similar to Attende Domine, about which I've written several times previously.  Both pieces are and have been used in processions and for congregational singing during Lent. I love Attende Domine and prefer it, personally, because of its tunefulness -  but just came across this one and thought I'd post it, too.  Giovanni Vianini sings it this video:

I don't find this piece in the Liber Usualis, but here's a PDF of the chant from the website of The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.   The text comes from Joel 2:17, and also, I'd say, from the general and widely-used Psalmic motif of "O Lord, will you be angry with us forever?," since that phrase is not found in the passage from Joel.
Spare, O Lord, spare thy people: let not thy wrath be kindled against us forever.

In the video above, Giovanni Vianini is singing the antiphon along with the hymn Flectamus iram vindicem, which CPDL calls "Variant 3":
The hymn Flectamus iram vindicem is attributed to St Ambrose. The Gregorian Parce Domine refrain is also sung with verses from the miserere using the tonus peregrinus."

Parce Domine, populo tuo, ne in aeternum irascaris nobis.

Variant 1
Parce Domine populo tuo, et ne des haereditatem tuam in [obprobrium] perditionem. (Joel 2:17. Vulgate)
Variant 2
Parce Domine, parce populo tuo quia pius es et misericors. Exaudi nos in aeternum, Domine.

Variant 3 (Hymn)

1. Flectamus iram vindicem,
Ploremus ante Judicem;
Clamemus ore supplici,
Dicamus omnes cernui:

2. Nostris malis offendimus
Tuam Deus clementiam
Effunde nobis desuper
Remissor indulgentiam.

3. Dans tempus acceptabile,
Da lacrimarum rivulis
Lavare cordis victimam,
Quam laeta adurat caritas.

4. Audi, benigne Conditor,
Nostras preces cum fletibus
In hoc sacro jejunio,
Fusas quadragenario.

O Lord, spare thy people, and be not angry with us for ever.
Variant 1
O Lord, spare thy people and give not thine inheritance to [reproach] perdition.
Variant 2
Spare, O Lord, spare thy people, for Thou art gracious and merciful. Hear us for ever, O Lord.

Variant 3 (Hymn)
1. Let us appease His wrath,
Beg for mercy from our Judge;
Cry to Him in supplication,
Let us all prostrate and say:

2. By our sins we have offended
against your mercy, O God
Pour forth from above
O pardoning One, your forgiveness

3. Having given us this acceptable time,
grant that in the water of our tears
we may purify our heart and that it may become
a joyful sacrifice offered out of love.

4. O Merciful Creator, hear
our prayers with our weeping
in this holy time of
forty day fasting.

Here's a page from The St. Gregory Hymnal (published by St. Gregory Guild, Philadelphia, 1920), courtesy of  Parce Domine is offered here as an antiphon "usually sung three times before the 50th Psalm [AKA Psalm 51], Miserere mei, Deus":

Several composers have written settings of Parce Domine; here's one from Gounod, sung beautifully by Mezzo-Soprano Andreia Petrea.  This is really quite a great piece, I have to say; unfortunately I've not been able to find the text Gounod uses here - it's not Flectamus iram vindicem, as far as I can tell - and I haven't yet been able to understand the words via the video.  Will be back with an update if either of those two things occurs!

This is an audio/video of a setting of Parce Domine by 15th-Century Low Countries composer Jacob Obrecht; it starts here with the Gregorian melody - which, as far as I can tell, is not actually part of the composed piece.  (Here's a PDF of the composition from CPDL; the text is the one from Variant 2 above.)  The way the chant is sung here at the outset makes me like the antiphon better than I did originally:

No comments:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...