I wonder whether Gombert set the first six verses of Psalm 30 in the Vulgate as part of his atonement for raping a choirboy or whether he set it as part of his duties once he’d received his pardon either way it’s a stunning piece of music. The text is penitential and was sung at the close of Compline. It consists entirely of very tightly woven imitation, there’s no musical rhetoric, you won’t hear any declamation, what there is is momentum. It’s a very vigorous piece of music set by a composer who knew exactly where he wanted the music to go, how to get there, and how to ensure that there wasn’t even the slightest obstruction. It’s formidable rather than enjoyable and I find myself admiring its technique more than anything else it ends on a note of optimism and serenity – In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum: redemisti me, Domine Deus veritatis (Into your hands, Lord, I entrust my spirit: you have redeemed me, Lord God of truth).
Nicolas Gombert (±1495-±1560): In te, Domine, speravi
In te, Domine, speravi,
Psalm 30 Vulgate VV 1– 6
In you, Lord, have I put my trust,
Performers: Magnificat conducted by Philip Cave