Hammerschmidt was an organist and composer who survived the hardships caused by the Thirty Years War to become a wealthy and successful man admired and respected by his contemporaries – Schütz and Rist both wrote poems lauding him and his music. He was a prolific composer mostly of sacred vocal and choral music publishing more than 400 such works in 14 collections. Most of his works are concertatos and he himself classified his works as either motets, concertos or arias. There’s a strong Italianate tinge to much of his music which as he never travelled to Italy I suspect he got from Schütz. That being said it would be a mistake to write him off as "school of" his music may have been influenced by the Italians and by Schütz but he was a vigorous and original composer with a distinctive musical voice of his own. The present work his Sonata super: Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren is very Italianate it could be inspired by Schütz but I think it more likely that it takes its inspiration directly from Monteverdi’s Sonata sopra Sancta Maria ora pro nobis. Whichever is the case it’s a beautiful setting of the first two verses Johann Gramann’s hymn paraphrasing Psalm 102 (103) in its own right. Enjoy :-).
Text & Translation: Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren
Nun lob, mein’ Seel’, den Herren, Was in mir ist, den Namen sein! Sein’ Wohltat tut er mehren, Vergiß es nicht, o Herze mein! Hat dir dein’ Sünd’ vergeben Und heilt dein’ Schwachheit groß, Errett’t dein armes Leben, Nimmt dich in seinen Schoß, Mit rechtem Trost beschüttet, Verjüngt dem Adler gleich. Der Kön’g schafft Recht, behütet, Die leiden in sein’m Reich.
Now praise, my soul, the Lord, all that is in me praise his name! He adds to his acts of kindness, do not forget this, oh my heart! He has forgiven you your sins, and healed your great weakness. He rescues your poor life, he takes you into his bosom, pours down just consolation, renews you like the eagle, the king acts justly, protects those who suffer in his kingdom.
Er hat uns wissen lassen Sein herrlich Recht und sein Gericht, Dazu sein’ Güt’ ohn’ Maßen, Es mangelt an Erbarmung nicht. Sein’n Zorn läßt er wohl fahren, Straft nicht nach unsrer Schuld, Die Gnad’ tut er nicht sparen, Den Blöden ist er hold. Sein Güt’ ist hoch erhaben Ob den’n, die fürchten ihn. So fern der Ost vom Abend, Ist unsre Sünd’ dahin.
He has let us know his marvelous justice and his court, and also his boundless kindness, nothing is lacking in his compassion, he lets us off his anger, he does not punish us according to our guilt, he is unstinting in his mercy, to the foolish he is graceful. His kindness is valued highly by those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west, our sins are from him.