Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina(1525/6-1594): Super flumina Babylonis

Palestrina’s famous motet  Super flumina Babylonis (By the rivers of Babylon) was first published in 1581. It’s “classic” Palestrina in which as the arc of the motet evolves, the counterpoint becomes ever more involved. Palestrina’s setting gently propels the text forward through a series of well-defined sections which together make a deeply satisfying musical unity. It’s sung here by the Westminster Cathedral Choir with a discipline and vocal control that makes this performance conducted by James O’Donnell very special. Enjoy :-).



Text: Super flumina Babylonis


Super flumina Babylonis illic sedimus

et flevimus dum recordaremur tui, Sion:

in salicibus in medio eius, suspendimus organa nostra.

Psalm 136 (137): 1-2

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down,

yea, we wept when we remembered thee, O Sion.

And in the midst of the willows we hung up our harps.

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