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Stabat Mater by Vivaldi

At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

 

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
All His bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had pass’d.

 

Oh, how sad and sore distress’d
Was that Mother highly blest
Of the sole-begotten One!

 

Christ above in torment hangs;
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying glorious Son.

 

Is there one who would not weep,
Whelm’d in miseries so deep
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

 

Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that Mother’s pain untold?

 

Bruis’d, derided, curs’d, defil’d,
She beheld her tender child
All with b_____ scourges rent.

 

For the sins of His own nation,
Saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.

 

O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above;
Make my heart with thine accord.

 

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ our Lord.

 

Holy Mother! pierce me through;
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Saviour crucified.

 

Let me share with thee His pain,
Who for all my sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.

 

Let me mingle tears with thee,
Mourning Him who mourn’d for me,
All the days that I may live.

 

By the cross with thee to stay,
There with thee to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of thee to give.

 

Virgin of all virgins best,
Listen to my fond request
Let me share thy grief divine.

 

Let me, to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of thine.

 

Wounded with His every wound,
Steep my soul till it hath swoon’d
In His very blood away.

 

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
Lest in flames I burn and die,
In His awful Judgment day.

 

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
Be Thy Mother my defence,
Be Thy cross my victory.

 

While my body here decays,
May my soul Thy goodness praise,
Safe in Paradise with Thee.

Amen.

Vivaldi’s setting of the Stabat Mater, RV621 is one of his earliest known surviving sacred works it almost certainly dates from 1711 or 1712 was rediscovered in 1939 and published in 1949. Given the most probable date of its composition it’s a bit unlikely that Vivaldi composed it for the Ospedale della Pietà and very likely indeed that he composed it on foot of a visit he made with his father to the Oratorian Church of Santa Maria della Pace in the Lombard city Brescia in 1711.
Vivaldi’s setting unlike those of contemporaneous composers consists only of the first ten stanzas in other words his setting conforms to the rules to be observed when the text is used as a hymn at Vespers. It’s also a far more sombre setting than those of his contemporaries and with an unusual combination of fast and slow movements.

It’s a moving and beautiful piece, fullfilled with extraordinary voice of Andreas Scholl regarded as the best countertenor nowadays.

Music of Spirit

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