Vox in Rama audita est, ploratus et ululatus:
Rachel plorans filios suos:
noluit consolari, quia non sunt.
Matthew 2:18, citing Jeremiah 31:15
(A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and wailing:
Rachel lamenting her sons:
she will not be consoled, for they are no more.)
Matthew 2:18 cites Jeremiah 31:15:
Thus says the Lord: A voice was heard on high of lamentation, of mourning, and weeping, of Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted for them, because they are not.
Of all the penitential texts this is surely one of the most harrowing Clemens non Papa's four-part setting of it was published in Antwerp in 1553 in 'Liber secundus ecclesiasticarum cantionum quatuor vocum'. Clemens composed it 'In Festo SS. Innocentium' – (for the Feast of The Holy Innocents) which is celebrated on December 28th. This feast which commemorates the children murdered by Herod's soldiers in his attempt to find and kill the new-born Christ child is largely overlooked in our prosperous and ultra-materialistic societies but in Clemens' time it was an important part of Christmas. His setting is short (only seventy two breves), spare and bleak, with a sense of musical desolation that matches Rachel's despair as she mourns her children who 'are no more'. It's also very very beautiful. You'll find it below sung by the Brabant Ensemble conducted by Stephen Rice.