Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Nisi Dominus RV608

violad'amore Vivaldi’s setting of Nisi Dominus   (Psalm 126 in the Vulgate) dates from fairly early on his career possibly for the Pietà which produced not only excellent singers but also superbly talented instrumentalists such as Anna Maria (1696–1782) and her successor as principal violinist, Chiaretta (1718–1796). It’s a long and very ambitious piece whose nine movements vary enormously in their style and scoring, it has two simple continuo arias (´‘Vanum est vobis’ and ‘Beatus vir’), one with string accompaniment in unison with the voice (‘Sicut sagittae’), two lively concerto church arias (‘Nisi Dominus’, and its reprise ‘Sicut erat in principio‘) and one (‘Cum dederit‘) that’s written in the slow siciliana style with chromatically ascending lines that Vivaldi often used to convey the idea of rest and sleep.  It’s third movement (‘Surgite’) is an accompanied recitative in which Vivaldi juxtaposes rapid ascending figures with slow ones at ‘panem doloris’ but for me the heart of this piece lies in its ‘Gloria’ which instead of being the expected set of joyous exclamations is a marvellously dark and solitary passage that leads

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741):  Nisi Dominus (Psalm 126), for voice, viola d’amore, strings & continuo in G minor, RV 608

Performers:Ensemble Matheus  conducted by Jean-Christophe Spinosi
Soloist: Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor)

Text & Translation: Nisi Dominus RV608


Movement 1: Nisi Dominus

Nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum,
in vanum laboraverunt qui aedificant eam.
Nisi Dominus custodierit civitatem,
frustra vigilat qui custodit eam.
Unless the Lord builds a house,
in vain do those who labour build it.
Unless the Lord guards a city,
futilely does he who watches guard it.

Movement 2: Vanum est vobis

Vanum est vobis ante lucem surgere.It is pointless for you to get up early:

Movement 3: Surgite

surgite postquam sederitis,
qui manducatis panem doloris.
you get up before you have gone to bed,
you who eat the bread of misery.

Movement 4: Cum dederit

Cum dederit dilectis suis somnum:
ecce haereditas Domini, filii:
merces, fructus ventris.
For he has granted to those he loves rest:
behold an inheritance from the Lord – sons:
a reward, the fruit of the womb.

Movement 5: Sicut sagittae

Sicut sagittae in manu potentis:
ita filii excussorum.
Like arrows in the hand of powerful man:
such are sons born in your youth.

Movement 6: Beatus vir

Beautus vir qui implevit desiderium suum ex ipsis:
non confundetur cum loquetur
inimicis suis in porta.
Blessed is the man who has filled his desire with these;
he will not be confounded when he speaks
with his enemies at the gate.

Movement 7: Gloria (Viola D’Amore)

Gloria Patri et Filio,
et Spiritui Sancto.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit.

Movement 8: Sicut erat in principio

Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper:
et in saecula saeculorum.
As it was in the beginning, both now and for ever: and for an age of ages.

Movement 9: Amen


16 thoughts on “Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Nisi Dominus RV608

  1. Thanks for posting this beautiful rendition! I would love to have it on CD, but failed to find it so far. Could you perhaps give me a hint?

    • It is a very beautiful rendition I agree – I’ve replied by email with a direct link to a supplier in your country.


  2. I am in total agreement wit the above fans of Vivaldi. The older I get the more I like and listen to his m usic.

    Richard H.K. Pohlmann

    • If liked it try exploring further – I’ve posted a lot of his music here, you’ll probably find more to like.


      • I’ve got a lot of Vivaldi’s music on site, why not click around a bit – if you liked this I’m pretty sure you’ll find a fair bit more to enjoy here.


    • You’re completely correct Ruth the performer information was from an earlier draft somehow I didn’t notice I uploaded the wrong player background. Fixed and thanks for letting me know.

  3. I have just heard Cum Diderit sang by Andreas
    Scholl on Something Understood on BBC Radio
    4. Such beautiful and emotional music.

    • It’s very beautiful music and beautifully sung too, glad you enjoyed it. I’ve got a lot of his music on site – I hope you’ll explore a bit.


  4. I was a little surprised to find it was a man singing. I wasn’t familiar with the term countertenor. At first I wasn’t sure what I thought about it. But this music…. I can’t get away from it. I should be asleep but I’m listening to it instead. I feel like the Phantom of the Opera, “Sing, Sing!” .

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