To my mind Schütz is the most important composer in Germany before the advent of Johann Sebastian Bach. His family wanted him to be a lawyer but fortunately for him (and for us) in 1608 the Landgrave of Moritz gave him money to travel to Venice and study music under Giovanni Gabrieli. At that time Venice dominated the European musical scene and was the locus of musical change and development. Schütz remained in Venice for three years only returning to Germany in 1612 after Gabrielli’s death. To his family’s chagrin he took up an appointment as Kapellmeister at the Elector’s court in Dresden abandoning all thoughts of ever being a lawyer. With the exception of brief interludes in Hildesheim and in Denmark, Schütz spent the rest of his long life in or around Dresden, in charge of music at court through the difficult period of the Thirty Years’ War.
Despite the difficulties and dangers of his life his output of music was prodigious and stylistically very diverse. It encompasses not only Gabrielli’s polychoral tradition but also the more intimate concertato style which used smaller ensembles of voices and instruments, and heralds the rise of opera with its implications for recitativo – Schütz’s music and teaching brought these to Germany where he adapted them to local taste and built the foundations upon which German composers would build for the next two centuries.
Most of his music was for sacred music for use during Lutheran devotions and services, this double choir (SATB: SATB) setting1 of Psalm 100 which he published in 1619 in Psalmen Davids his first published collection of music is very typical of his music a successful blending of of Venetian polychoral writing with the straightforward German style of text setting. Enjoy :-).
Heinrich Schütz (1585–1672): Psalm 100
Jauchzet dem Herren, alle Welt, dienet dem Herren mit Freuden, kommt vor sein Angesicht mit
O be joyful in the Lord, all ye lands: serve the Lord with gladness, and come before his presence
Erkennet, dass der Herre Gott ist, er hat uns gemacht, und nicht wir selbst, zu seinem Volk und
Be ye sure that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people,
Gehet zu seinen Toren ein mit Danken, zu seinen Vorhöfen mit Loben, danket ihm, lobet seinen
O go your way into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him,
Denn der Herr ist freundlich, und seine Gnade währet ewig, und seine Wahrheit für und für.
For the Lord is gracious, his mercy is everlasting: and his truth endureth from generation to generation.
Ehre sei dem Vater und dem Sohn, und auch dem heil’gen Geiste, Wie es war im Anfang, jetzt und immerdar und von Ewigkeit zu Ewigkeit. Amen.
(Psalm 100 with Gloria)
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.)
Performers: The Cambridge Singers conducted by John Rutter
- There’s an earlier setting for three choirs – mfi. ↩