Paucitas dierum meorum (Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina)

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Editor: Pothárn Imre (submitted 2019-07-22).   Score information: A4, 6 pages, 108 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Transcribed from 1584 print. Original key (chiavi naturali) and note values.

Both parts of the motet end with the same text (and music): antequam vadam ad terram tenebrosam et opertam mortis caligine (before I go to the dark land, covered by the darkness of death.) Palestrina set the text Opertam mortis caligine in blackened breves, giving also a visual impact of the darkness. Blackened breves are generally shortened by one third of their value, here, however, this would result in a strange rhythm. So I opted for the rarer case, where blackened notes are shortened by half of their value. Blackened semibreve followed by blackend minim is equivalent in Palestrina's works with a dotted minim followed by a semiminim. Moreover, the blackened notes in Quintus start one semibreve + semibreve rest later than the other 4 voices, so the semibreve in Quintus has equal length as a blackened breve in the other 4 voices. The Palestrina Werke edition also renders these blackened breves as semibreves.

General Information

Title: Paucitas dierum meorum
Composer: Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Lyricist:

Number of voices: 5vv   Voicing: SATTB
Genre: SacredMotet

Language: Latin
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 1584 in Motettorum liber quintus, 5vv, no. 2

Description: Two-part motet:
I. Paucitas dierum meorum
II. Manus tuae, Domine


External websites:

Original text and translations

Latin.png Latin text

Paucitas dierum meorum finietur brevi.
Dimitte me, Domine, ut plangam paululum dolorem meum,
antequam vadam ad terram tenebrosam et opertam mortis caligine.

Manus tuae, Domine, fecerunt me
et plasmaverunt me totum in circuitu,
et sic repente precipitas me?
Antequam vadam ad terram tenebrosam et opertam mortis caligine.