The first Vespers motet for Christmas eve, Dixit Dominus (Psalm 109), by Alessandro Grandi, from his collection published in Venice in 1630.
High Definition video from the Venetian Christmas Vespers Concert, December, 2013, performed on original instruments by the Early Music ensemble Voices of Music. Featuring (Left to Right) Laura Heimes and Jennifer Ellis Kampani, sopranos; John Taylor Ward, baritone; William Skeen, viola da gamba; David Tayler, archlute and Hanneke van Proosdij, baroque organ.
Scored for three voices and continuo, Grandi’s Vespers psalms of 1630 present a unique way of declaming text: each section is framed with an individual rhythmic and harmonic profile, and the three singers combine for solos, duos and trios, using rhythmic shapes that allow the text to be clearly heard at all times; at the same time, the rhythm is set in a way that allows each singer to flex the word groups according to the internal accent, meter and syllable length of the psalms. In his setting of the Psalm texts, Grandi provides a refined intellectual splendor: the words of the psalms are elevated above ostentation into a world of pure rhetoric.
The musicians of Voices of Music would especially like to thank Prof. Jeffrey Kurtzman of Washington University in St. Louis; Marco Gemmani of the Cappella Marciana, San Marco, Venice, and Roberto Marchi of the Biblioteca Musica of Bologna for their assistance with this program.
Dixit Dominus Domino meo:
Sede a dextris meis: donec ponam inimicos tuos scabellum pedum tuorum.
Virgam virtutis tuae emittet Dominus ex Sion: dominare in medio inimicorum tuorum.
Tecum principium in die virtutis tuae in
ex utero ante luciferum genui te.
Juravit Dominus, et non poenitebit eum:
tu es sacerdos in aeternum secundum ordinem Melchisedech.
Dominus a dextris tuis, confregit in die irae suae reges.
Judicabit in nationibus, implebit ruinas:
conquassabit capita in terra multorum.
De torrente in via bibet:
propterea exaltabit caput.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
The Lord said to my Lord,
sit at my right hand, until I make thine enemies
The Lord shall send out the rod of thy strength from Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
At thy beginning in thy day of glory in the
splendour of the holy places,
before the first light I begat thee.
The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent:
thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedech.
The Lord at thy right hand shall destroy kings in the day of his wrath.
He shall judge among the nations, fill them with the dead, and smash heads in many lands.
He shall drink of the brook in the way:
thus shall he raise his head.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and
to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, without end. Amen.