Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (±1525-1594): Surge propera

In 1583 Alessandro Gardane the famous Venetian printer and publisher who had just moved to Rome from Venice was pleased to publish music by Palestrina including this setting of ‘Surge, propera’ (Arise Make haste).  Palestrina composed it for the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (July 2nd).  Palestrina’s treatment of the text Song of Songs’ poetry relating the divine to human love is graphic from the start with ”Surge‘ (Arise) being depicted by rising motions and with soaring crescendos throughout. Tomás Luis de Victoria thought sufficiently highly of it to make it the basis of one his Masses – Missa Surge propera.   I’ve included two performances of the motet below for you, both are excellent. The first is by the Westminster Cathedral Choir this has great sense of spaciousness and fervour the second performance is by Magnificat and is far more precise, it would be closer to how Palestrina who composed these motets for non-liturgical performance would have expected the music to be sung .  Enjoy :-).


Westminster Cathedral Choir:
Surge, propera amica mea, et veni.
Iam enim hiems transiit;
imber abiit et recessit.
Arise, make haste my love, and come away.
For the winter is passed; the rains are over and gone.
Flores apparuerunt in terra nostra.
Tempus putationis advenit.

Song of Songs 2: 10-12

Flowers have appeared in our land.
The time of pruning is nigh.

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