Claudio Monteverdi: the solo motet Ab aeterno ordinata sum SV 262, from his late collection of music, Selva morale e spirituale (Venice, 1640/1). This extraordinary composition is a tour de force for the soloist, combining a wide range with passaggi and angular leaps–evocative of the rugged spiritual terrain of the text, sourced from Proverbs 8: 23-31.
HD video from the Voices of Music Christmas Vespers concert, December 2013.
John Taylor Ward, baritone
William Skeen, viola da gamba
Hanneke van Proosdij, baroque chamber organ
Ab aeterno ordinata sum,
et ex antiquis antequam terra fieret.
Nondum erant abyssi, et ego iam concepta eram,
necdum fontes aquarum eruperant,
necdum montes gravi mole constiterant;
ante omnes colles ego parturiebar.
Adhuc terram non fecerat, et flumina,
et cardines orbis terrae.
Quando preparabat caelos aderam,
quando certa lege et giro vallabat abissos,
quando etera firmabat sursum,
et librabat fontes aquarum,
quando circumdabat mari terminum suum
et legem ponebat aquis, ne transirent fines suos,
quando appendebat fundamenta terrae:
cum eo eram, cuncta componens
et delectabor per singulos dies,
ludens coram eo omni tempore,
ludens in orbem terrarum,
et deliciae meae esse cum filiis hominum.
I was set up from everlasting,
from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
When there were no depths, I was brought forth,
when there were no fountains abounding with water,
before the mountains were settled;
before the hills was I brought forth.
While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the rivers,
nor the highest part of the dust of the world.
When he prepared the heavens I was there,
when he set a compass upon the face of the depth,
when he established the clouds above,
when he strengthened the fountains of the deep,
when he gave to the sea his decree
that the waters should not pass their boundaries,
when he appointed the foundations of the earth:
then I was by him, as one brought up with him
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing always with him,
rejoicing in the habitable part of the earth,
and my delights were with the sons of men.
Proverbs 8: 23-31