Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina: Deus tu conversus


Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525/6-1594)

This is one of my favourites amongst Palestrina’s later motets. It was published in Rome in 1593 as part of a cycle of Offertories. It’s a lively and vivacious piece of music for five parts that’s characterised by a pronounced harmonic richness. The first line of the text is a very formal invocation to God asking him to turn to us this rapidly turns into a cascading series of semi-quavers as the choir asks God to quicken us (Deus Tu conversus vivificabis nos).  In the second line ‘et plebs tua laetabitur in te’ (and Thy people shall rejoice in Thee) Palestrina conveys the sense of a people rejoicing by using  lenghtened (dotted) notes which he couples with strong and dynamic rythmns. Palestrina expresses and explains the people’s need for God to turn to them  in the third line ‘Ostende nobis Domine misericordiam tuam’ (Show us Thy mercy, O Lord) which he follows by the strong ‘et salutare tuum da nobis‘ (‘and grant us Thy salvation’). There then follows a short (only half a bar) pause and the whole of the final section is sung again ending the motet on an uplifting note.

It’s sung below by the Westminster Cathedral Choir conducted by Martin Baker. Enjoy :-)


Deus tu conversus

[audio:|titles=Deus tu conversus]
Deus Tu conversus vivificabis nos:

et plebs tua laetabitur in te.

Ostende nobis Domine misericordiam tuam,

et salutare tuum da nobis.

Turn unto us, O God, and quicken us:

and Thy people shall rejoice in Thee.

Show us Thy mercy, O Lord,

and grant us Thy salvation.

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