Stabat Mater

Mixed choir
Duration: 33’
Commissioned  by Ministère de la Culture (DGCA)
First performance on march 16th 1996 in Auch by the vocal ensemble « Les Eléments » conducted by Joël Suhubiette during the festival « Eclats de voix »
Publisher : Editions Jobert

“O quam tristis” :

The Stabat Mater text, probably owed to Pope Innocent III and completed by the 13th century Franciscan Monk Jacopone da Todi is composed of 20 regular stanzas.

The first eight describe the scene of the cross in narrative style using strong imagery; we witness the agony of Christ and the mother’s silent desperation as she « stands in tears, near the cross where her son is hanging ».

So the work begins, almost at a standstill where only the mournful scansions by the male voices punctuated by long silences can be heard.

A more gentle plea with the word « Filius » follows as the female voices come in slowly, breaking into to a long and harrowing lament.

The initial mournful scansions return – this time in spoken voice to bring the first part to an end.

The music for the second part opens with the tenor soloist’s gentle melody « Oh Mother root of love…. », composed of ten stanzas.

It is a long prayer to the Virgin which begins, radiant, full of fervour and hope with a highly orchestral use of polyphony where the steady swaying backs the tenor-soprano duet.

We reach the central part of the poem with a tenth stanza sanctifying the Mother: the word « Sancta » is sung by the soprano in vocalise building up to a fugue which gradually drives the music so that it literally « explodes » as the prayer becomes more urgent (« Ô Vierge illustre… »: « O illustrious Virgin »). She can no longer hide her anguish when faced with the last judgement and the flames of hell.

Following this frenzied commotion, calm returns in the very short third part where the prayer is addressed to Christ (« Christe, cum sit… »); the mournful scansions from the beginning of the work accompany the bass soloist but this time in a more fragile and serene pitch: that of the female voices.

The work gently fades away with a lingering harmonic section quivering around the vocalise of the word « Amen ».


Stabat Mater dolorosa
Juxta crucem lacrimosa
dum pendebat Filius.

Cuius animam gementem,
contristatam et dolentem,
pertransivit gladius.

O quam tristis et afflicta
fuit illa benedicta
Mater Unigeniti.

Quæ mœrebat et dolebat,
Pia Mater cum videbat
Nati pœnas incliti.

Quis est homo qui non fleret,
Matrem Christi si videret
in tanto supplicio?

Quis non posset contristari,
Christi Matrem contemplari
dolentem cum Filio?

Pro peccatis suæ gentis
vidit Iesum in tormentis
et flagellis subditum.

Vidit suum dulcem natum
morientem desolatum,
dum emisit spiritum.

Eia Mater, fons amoris,
me sentire vim doloris
fac, ut tecum lugeam.

Fac ut ardeat cor meum
in amando Christum Deum,
ut sibi complaceam.

Sancta Mater, istud agas,
Crucifixi fige plagas
cordi meo valide.

Tui nati vulnerati,
tam dignati pro me pati,
pœnas mecum divide.

Fac me tecum pie flere,
Crucifixo condolere,
donec ego vixero.

Iuxta crucem tecum stare,
et me tibi sociare
in planctu desidero.

Virgo virginum præclara,
mihi iam non sis amara:
fac me tecum plangere.

Fac ut portem Christi mortem,
passionis fac consortem,
et plagas recolere.

Fac me plagis vulnerari,
fac me cruce inebriari,
et cruore Filii.

Flammis ne urar succensus
per te Virgo, sim defensus
in die judicii

Christe, cum sit hinc exire,
da per Matrem me venire
ad palmam victoriae.

Quando corpus morietur,
fac ut animæ donetur
Paradisi gloria.

Amen ! In sempiterna sæcula. Amen.

Extract First part