Susanna ab improbis senibus (Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina)

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  • (Posted 2015-09-14)   CPDL #36796:  Network.png
Editor: Christopher Shaw (submitted 2015-09-14).   Score information: A4, 16 pages, 125 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes: This edition is offered at original pitch (high chiavette) for SSATTB or transposed down a fourth for AATTBB.

General Information

Title: Susanna ab improbis senibus
Composer: Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Lyricist: Based on the book of Danielcreate page

Number of voices: 6vv   Voicings: SSATTB and AATTBB
Genre: SacredMotet

Language: Latin
Instruments: A cappella

First Published: 1575 in Motettorum liber tertius, 5, 6, 8vv, Venice..
     2. Published: 1583 in Harmoniae miscellae cantionum sacrarum, no. 30.

Description: Palestrina's setting of the story of Susannah and the elders.

External websites:

Original text and translations

Latin.png Latin text

Susanna ab improbis senibus obsessam se videns,
qui forma ejus capti eam, nisi sibi obsequeretur
adulteri se accusaturos minitabantur,
ingenuit et ait: Angustiae mihi sunt undique, si enim hoc egero, mors mihi est
Si autem non egero non effugium manus vestras, sed melius est mihi
absque opere incidere in manus vestras. quam peccare in conspectu Domini.
Postquam autem falso eorum testimonio damnata est,
cum innocentiae suae paratum sibi supplicium videret,
exclamavit et dixit:
Deus aeterne, qui abscondiorum es cognitor,
tu scis quoniam falsum testimonium tulerunt contra me,
et ecce morior cum nihil horum fecerim
quae isti malitiose composuerunt adversum me.
Exaudivit autem Dominus vocem ejus
et salvatus est sanguis innoxius in die illa.

English.png English translation

Susanna, seeing herself beset by the wicked elders,
and a captive unless she admitted to the charges
of adultery with which they threatened her,
sighed, and said:
I am straitened on every side: for if I do this thing, it is death to me:
and if I do it not, I shall not escape your hands.
But it is better for me to fall into your hands without doing it, than to sin in the sight of the Lord.
And when she was found guilty by their false witness
and, in her innocence, saw punishment being prepared,
she exclaimed, and said:
O eternal God, who knowest hidden things,
Thou knowest that they have borne false witness against me:
and behold I must die, whereas I have done none of these things,
which these men have maliciously forged against me.
And the Lord heard her voice
And bloodshed was spared on that day.