The text of O clemens, o mitis, o coelestis Pater (Oh gracious, oh gentle, oh heavenly Father), is a free poetry meditation based on the parable of the prodigal son from Luke 15 and verses from Psalms it’s a bit unusual for one of Buxtehude’s cantatas because Buxtehude added the direction Motetta sub communione which means that he intended it to be performed during the Lutheran Liturgy and not during the Abendmusiken – the concerts which he gave in Lübeck on Sunday afternoons during the weeks of Advent. I’m not quite sure in which year he composed it but Snyder (Snyder 2007) says that it was copied for the Düben Collection in 1675 so it must date from some few years prior to that. It’s a warm, intimate, piece, that consists of two free-form arias bracketing the central recitative very madrigalian in style. It’s scored for one or two soloists and a string ensemble made up of instruments of the viola da gamba family. The free-form nature chosen by Buxtehude reflects the text as does the way in which he breaks up musical phrases and forces breaks in the melodic line with repeated supplications and exclamations. It’s a moving piece of music to this day and must have had an electrifying effect on the the congregation in Lübeck when they first heard it. Enjoy :-).
Video & Commentary Source: Dieterich Buxtehude (±1637-1707): O clemens, o mitis, o coelestis Pater, BuxWV 82 – YouTube Published on 9 Feb 2015 by markfromireland.
Text & Translation: O clemens, o mitis, o coelestis Pater, BuxWV 82
O clemens, o mitis, o coelestis Pater,
Oh gracious, oh gentle, oh heavenly Father,
Paterna enim tua bonitate et leni imperio
For from your fatherly kindness and from your gentle dominion
oh gracious, oh gentle, oh heavenly Father.
Pasce et recrea me, coelestis,
Comfort and enliven me again,