14 Apr 2017

PALESTRINA: Super flumina Babylonis

From Music Alive, 7:32 pm on 14 April 2017
Gebhard Fugel: By the Waters of Babylon

Gebhard Fugel: By the Waters of Babylon Photo: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons


“Super flumina Babylonis is one of the most well-known motets of the revered Renaissance composer Palestrina (1525-1594). It is a perfect example of classic ‘Palestrina style’: smooth, arching melodic lines, careful use of dissonance to propel the music forward, with each voice relating to the other according to the strictest rules of counterpoint. This is the first setting in this recital of Psalm 137, the great song of mourning of the Jewish exiles held captive in Babylon after the conquest of Jerusalem c. 607 BC.” - Michael Stewart

Super flumina Babylonis illic sedimus et flevimus, cum recordaremur Sion.

In salicibus in medio ejus suspendimus organa nostra.

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept

when we remembered Zion.

There on the willows we hung our harps.

(Psalm 137 v 1, 2)