Previous Project All Past Projects Next Project

Splendours of Portugal: Ceremonial Music of Mourning and Celebration

Details of Performances:

More information

Concert Programme

Duarte Lobo - Audivi vocem de caelo
Frei Manuel Cardoso - Requiem a6


Joăo Lourenco Rebelo - Panis Angelicus
Rebelo - Lamentations
Diogo Dias Melgas - Salve Regina
Rebelo - Laudate Dominum(2 choirs)
Rebelo - Magnificat (2 choirs)

Programme notes

Overshadowed for some time by the greater availability of early Spanish music, Portuguese polyphony is only fairly recently becoming better known. There may be good historical reason for this, for in1580 Philip II of Spain seized the throne of Portugal, becoming Philip I of Portugal, and the country remained under Spanish rule until 1640. During that period Iberia was a dominant force not only in Europe, but was also colonising the New World and establishing Latin America. Philip, as well as ruling Iberia, ruled the Netherlands, and as husband to Queen Mary was also a rather absent King of England.

Tonight's programme traces the history of Portuguese sacred music throughout this incredibly productive period, and illustrates many ways in which it does differ from the contemporary Spanish repertoire, while sharing the common features inherent in Iberia's rich cultural heritage: the haunting minor mode melodies of the Sephardic Jews, the Islamic influence of the 'Moors' and the long tradition of highly rhythmic dance and folk music that infiltrated both secular and sacred vocal music.

Spain's greatest renaissance composer, Thomas Luis de Victoria, actually spent most of his working life in Rome, absorbing much of the Italian contrapuntal style as typified by his great Roman contemporary, Palestrina, but the principal composers of Portugal were less well traveled. The city of Evora in Eastern Portugal became an important centre for composers during the 16th century and both Duarte Lobo (c. 1565-1646) and Manuel Cardoso (1566-1650) studied at the cathedral there under Manuel Mendes (c. 1547-1605) before moving on to Lisbon: Lobo as mestre da capela at the Cathedral and Cardoso joining the Carmelite order in 1597. Neither ever left Portugal.

Both composers wrote Requiems that seem modelled on the great setting by Victoria. Lobo did, in fact compose two: one in eight parts and one in six. Audivi vocem de caelo is also a funereal piece. In fact much Portuguese music is centred on the theme of death and mourning - perhaps a reflection on the turbulent and war torn state of the times. Cardoso's 6 voice Requiem was published in 1625 with no organ part stipulated. Although by the 17th century unaccompanied singing had all but vanished from other parts of Europe, in Portugal the polyphonic style was to remain for some time to come, perhaps a reflection on the more insular nature of most composers' lives. The scoring, with the chant part in slow notes in the first soprano voice is also reminiscent of the earlier Victoria setting, but the harmonic style is far more daring with many augmented chords and vivid suspensions. As to whether an organ part was ever added in performance is open to speculation. The music works very well unaccompanied, but equally it is clear that much polyphony in both the 16th and 17th centuries used the organ even when no part was included in the published score. Reinforcing the bass line further with the violone (similar in range to the double bass, but with frets and gut strings) adds to the richness and sonority of the music.

With the music of Joăo Lourenco Rebelo (1610-1661), we cross into the period that saw Portugal regain its independence. Born in the same year that Monteverdi published his ground breaking Vespers, he was to continue the style of lavish polychoral writing seen in the Magnificat and Laudate Dominum well into the mid 17th century. Historically speaking his greatest claim to fame would be the firm friendship he struck up with King Joao IV (1604-1656) the first king to be crowned after the restoration of the Portuguese monarchy; himself a composer remembered chiefly for a lovely setting of the Crux Fidelis. Rebelo's music shows a great mastery of both the more conservative polyphonic style and more revolutionary chromaticism. The extraordinary Lamentations, in particular, at times pushes tonality almost to the limits, while Panis Angelicus combines passages of soaring melodic polyphonic lines with expressive chordal writing, culminating in a glorious finale complete with augmented harmony and sweetly resolving dissonances on the words: 'O res mirabilis'.

Deborah Roberts, March 2006


Audivi vocem

Audivi vocem de caelo dicentem mihi: Beati mortui, qui in domino moriuntur.
I heard a voice from heaven, saying to me: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.

Missa pro defunctis

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Te decet hymnus, Deus, in Sion,
et tibi reddetur votum in Ierusalem;
Exaudi orationem meam.
Ad te omnis caro veniet.

Eternal rest grant them, o Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
A hymn becometh Thee, o God, in Zion,
and a vow shall be paid to Thee in Jerusalem; O hear my prayer.
All flesh shall come to Thee.

Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison.
Lord have mercy on us,
Christ have mercy on us,
Lord have mercy on us.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.
In memoria aeterna erit iustus: ab auditione mala non timebit.

Eternal rest grant them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
The just shall be in everlasting remembrance; he shall not fear the evil hearing

Dies irae, dies illa
solvet saeclum in favilla
teste David cum Sybilla.
Quantus tremor est futurus,
quando judex est venturus
cuncta stricte discussurus.

Tuba mirum spargens sonum
per sepulchra regionum,
coget omnes ante thronum.
Mors stupebit et natura,
cum resurget creatura,
judicanti responsura.

Liber scriptus proferetur,
in quo totum continetur,
unde mundus judicetur.
Iudex ergo cum sedebit,
quidquid latet apparebit,
nil inultum remanebit.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
Quem patronum rogaturus,
cum vix justus sit securus?
Rex tremendae majestatis,
qui salvandos salvas gratis,
salva me, fons pietatis.

Recordare, Iesu pie,
quod sum causa tuae viae;
ne me perdas illa die.
Quaerens me sedisti lassus,
redemisti crucem passus;
tantus labor non sit cassus.

Iuste iudex ultionis,
donum fac remissionis,
ante diem rationis.
Ingemisco tamquam reus;
culpa rubet vultus meus;
supplicanti parce, Deus.

Qui Mariam absolvisti,
et latronem exaudisti,
mihi quoque spem dedisti.
Preces meae non sunt dignae,
sed tu, bonus, fac benigne,
ne perenni cremer igne.

Inter oves locum praesta,
et ab haedis me sequestra,
statuens in parte dextra.
Confutatis maledictis,
flammis acribus addictis,
voca me cum benedictis.

Oro supplex et acclinis,
cor contritum quasi cinis
gere curam mei finis.
Lacrimosa dies illa,
qua resurget ex favilla,
judicandus homo reus.

Huic ergo parce Deus.
Pie Iesu, Domine,
dona eis requiem.

Day of wrath and doom impending,
heaven and earth in ashes ending,
David's word with Sibyl's blending.
Oh, what fear man's bosom rendeth,
when from heaven the judge descendeth,
on whose sentence all dependeth.

Wondrous sound the trumpet flingeth,
throughout earth's graves it ringeth,
all before the throne it bringeth.
Death is struck and nature quaking,
all creation is awaking,
to its Judge an answer making.

Lo! the book exactly worded,
wherein all hath been recorded,
thence shall judgment be awarded.
When the Judge his seat attaineth,
and each hidden deed arraigneth,
nothing unavenged remaineth.

What shall I, a wretch, be pleading?
who for me be interceding,
when the just are mercy needing?
King of majesty tremendous,
who dost free salvation send us,
fount of pity, then befriend us.

Think, kind Jesus, my salvation,
caused thy wondrous incarnation;
leave me not to reprobation.
Faint and weary thou has sought me,
on the cross of suffering bought me,
shall such grace be vainly brought me?

Righteous judge, for sin's pollution,
grant thy gift of absolution,
ere that day of retribution.
Guilty now I pour my moaning,
all my shame with anguish owning;
spare, O God, Thy suppliant groaning.

Through the sinful woman shriven,
through the dying thief forgiven,
thou to me a hope hast given.
Worthless are my prayers and sighing,
yet, good Lord, in grace complying,
rescue me from fires undying.

With Thy favoured sheep O place me,
not among the goats abase me,
but to Thy right hand upraise me.
When the wicked are confounded,
doomed to flames of woe unbounded,
call me, with Thy saints surrounded.

Low I kneel, with heart submission,
see, like ashes my contrition,
help me in my last condition.
Ah, that day of tears and mourning!
From the dust of earth returning,
man for judgment must prepare him;

Spare, O God, in mercy spare him.
Lord, all pitying, Jesus blest,
grant them Thine eternal rest.


Domine Iesu Christe, Rex gloriæ,
libera animas omnium fidelium defunctorum
de pœnis inferni et de profundo lacu:
libera eas de ore leonis,
ne absorbeat eas tartarus,
ne cadant in obscurum:
sed signifer sanctus Michael
repræsentet eas in lucem sanctam:
Quam olim Abrahæ promisisti, et semini eius.

Hostias et preces tibi, Domine,
laudis offerimus:
tu suscipe pro animabus illis,
quarum hodie memoriam facimus:
fac eas, Domine, de morte transire ad vitam.
Quam olim Abrahæ promisisti, et semini eius.

Lord Jesus Christ, king of glory,
deliver the souls of all the faithful
departed from the pains of hell,
and from the deep pit.
Deliver them from the lion's mouth,
lest hell swallow them up,
lest they fall into darkness;
and let the holy standard bearer Michael,
bring them into the holy light.
Which Thou didst promise of old to Abraham and his seed.

We offer Thee, O Lord,
a sacrifice of praise and prayer;
Accept them on behalf of the souls
we commemorate this day.
And let them, o Lord, pass from death to life,
which thou didst promise of old to Abraham and his seed.

Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus, Dominus deus sabaoth.
Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua. Hosanna in excelsis.
Benedictus qui venit in nomine domini Hosanna in excelsis.

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are full of thy glory. Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, hosanna in the highest!

Heu mihi
Heu mihi Domine quia peccavi nimis, in vita mea: quid faciam miser?
ubi fugiam nisi ad te Deus meus?
Miserere mei dum veneris in novissimo die.
Anima mea turbata est valde sed tu Domine succurre ei:
miserere mei dum veneris in novissimo die.

Woe is me, O Lord, for I have sinned greatly in my life. What shall become of me, wretch that I am;
where shall I flee, except to Thee, my God.
Have mercy on me when Thou shalt come on the last day.
My soul is greatly troubled but Thou, O Lord, sustain it:
have mercy on me when Thou shalt come on the last day.

Agnus Dei
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,
dona eis requiem.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,
dona eis requiem sempiternam.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, Grant them rest.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, Grant them eternal rest.

Lux aeterna luceat eis, Domine, cum sanctis tuis in aeternum, quia pius es.
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis, cum sanctis tuis in aeternum, quia pius es.

Let eternal light shine upon them, O Lord, with Thy saints for ever, for Thou art merciful.
Eternal rest grant them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them, with Thy saints for ever,for Thou art merciful.

Libera me
Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna, in die illa tremenda.
Quando coeli movendi sunt et terra.
Dies illa, dies irae, calamitatis et miseriae, dies magna et amara valde. Dum veneris iudicare saeculum per ignem.

Deliver me, O Lord from everlasting death on that dreadful day,
when the heavens and the earth shall be moved.
That day, the day of anger, of calamity, of misery, that great day and most bitter. When thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.

Panis angelicus

Panis angelicus fit panis hominum. Dat panis caelicus figuris terminum.
O res mirabilis, manducat Dominum pauper, servus et humilis.

The bread of angels is made the bread of men, The bread of heaven is the final metaphor.
What a wonder! A poor man partakes of the Lord, a poor and humble servant.

Lamentations of Jeremiah

Incipit lamentatio Ieremiae Prophetae.
ALEPH Quomodo sedet sola civitas plena populo! Facta est quasi vidua domina gentium: princeps provinciarum facta est sub tributo.
BETH Plorans ploravit in nocte et lacrimae eius in maxillis eius: non est qui consoletur eam ex omnibus caris eius omnes amici eius spreverunt eam et facti sunt ei inimici.
GHIMEL Migravit Iudas propter afflictionem, et multitudinem servitutis. Habitavit inter gentes, nec invenit requiem. Omnes persecutores eius apprehenderunt eam inter angustias.
Ierusalem, Ierusalem, convertere ad dominum Deum tuum.

Here begin the lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah. A How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow! She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become a subject.
B She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, and have become her enemies.
G Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude she has dwelt among the heathen, and has found no rest. All her persecutors overtook her among the narrow places.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return unto the Lord thy God.

Laudate Dominum

Laudate Dominum omnes gentes;
Laudate eum, omnes populi.
Quoniam confirmata est
Super nos misericordia ejus,
Et veritas Domini manet in aeternum.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper. Et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Praise the Lord, all nations;
Praise Him, all people.
For His has bestowed
His mercy upon us,
And the truth of the Lord endures forever.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and forever, and for generations of generations. Amen


Magnificat anima mea Dominum.
Et exultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo.
Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae: ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes.
Quia fecit mihi magna, qui potens est: et sanctum nomen eius.
Et misericordia eius, a progenie in progenies timentibus eum.
Fecit potentiam in bracchio suo: dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.
Deposuit potentes de sede: et exaltavit humiles.
Esurientes implevit bonis et divites dimisit inanes.
Suscepit Israel puerum suum recordatus misericordiae suae.
Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros: Abraham, et semini eius in saecula.

My soul doth magnify the Lord.
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my saviour.
Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me: and holy is his name.
And his mercy from generation unto generations to them that fear him.
He hath shewed might in his arm: he hath dispersed the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He hath deposed the mighty from their seat: and hath exalted the humble.
The hungry he hath filled with good things and the rich he hath sent away empty.
He hath received Israel his child being mindful of his mercy.
As he spoke to our fathers: to Abraham, and his seed for ever.