Cristóbal de Morales (±1500-1553): Spem In Alium

Cristóbal de Morales was probably born in Seville around 1500. With the exception of a ten-year period between 1535 and 1545 spent in Rome he spent most of his life in Spain making music ad majorem Dei gloriam in Spanish cathdrals. His five-part of Spem in alium seems rather more French or perhap Flemish to me than Spanish. It’s been attributed (on stylistic grounds) to Nicolas Gombert and I can see why someone might think that. It’s characterised by many false relations, an unusual use of dissonance and a somewhat odd repetition in which the the first part’s ending is reprised con variedad. Whatever about the stylistic points the documentary evidence points to it being one of Morales’ compostions. It’s sung very well indeed in the performance below the fold by the Brabant Ensemble. Enjoy :-).


Text: Spem in alium

LatinEnglish translation

Spem in alium numquam habui praeter in te,

Deus Israel, qui irasceris, et propitius eris,

et omnia peccata nostra in tribulatione dimittis.

Domine Deus, creator caeli et terrae,

respice ad humilitatem nostram,

et omnia peccata nostra in tribulatione dimittis.

I have never put my hope in any other but you,

God of Israel, who will be angry and yet become again gracious,

and forgive all the sins of our suffering.

Lord God, creator of heaven and earth,

look upon our lowliness,

and forgive all the sins of our suffering.

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