Laudate Dominum from the “Vesperae solennes de Confessore” KV 339 Movement 5
Psalm 117 was a source of inspiration to great classical composers of all times. A most famous musical setting of the text is W. A. Mozart’s, in which it is sung by soprano solo with chorus and is the fifth of six parts of a larger piece known as the Vesperae solennes de confessore (K.339). It was commissioned by the Archbishop of Salzburg, Hieronymus von Colloredo and composed in September 1780 in Salzburg.
Colloredo is well known to history as a patron and employer of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He became exceptionally annoyed with Mozart’s frequent absences. After a number of arguments, he ultimately dismissed him with the words, “Soll er doch gehen, ich brauche ihn nicht!” (“May he leave, I don’t need him!”). Leopold Mozart stayed in Salzburg but “continued to bemoan the failure to replace musicians who had left or died, and the consequent shambles in the court music.” Colloredo sometimes played the violin in the court orchestra.
Vesperae solennes de confessore (K.339)is made up of musical settings of 5 Psalms and was used in the Roman Catholic liturgy known as Vespers. The original manuscript is lost presumed destroyed in the Second World War. Vespers is the sunset evening prayer service in the Western Catholic, Eastern (Byzantine) Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran liturgies of the canonical hours. The word comes from the Greek ἑσπέρα and the Latin vesper, meaning “evening.” It is also referred to in the Anglican tradition as Evening Prayer or Evensong. The term is also used in some Protestant denominations (such as the Presbyterian Church or Seventh-day Adventist Church) to describe evening services. While very little is known regarding the circumstances of the commission of this work , J. Frank Henderson wrote a very interesting article on the possible liturgical occasions in Salzburg for which this work might have been commissioned. According to his research it seems probable that the occasion for which Mozart composed his Vesperae Solennes de Confessore (K 339) was first vespers of a feast of St Rupert on September 24, 1780. As an alternative, it seems possible that this occasion was a feast of St Virgil on September 28. [Henderson, P.20]
It is scored for small ensemble, the humble forces belying the power of the music to transport and beguile: 2 violins, bassoon and cello support a Soprano Soloist and an SATB 4part choir. It is possible to perform the work without the chorus, with the soprano singing the main melody instead of the choral sopranos. This requires only slight adjustment of the vocal line at the return of the solo soprano.
The Text for Laudate Dominum:
Laudate Dominum omnes gentes
Laudate eum, omnes populi
Quoniam confirmata est
Super nos misericordia eius,
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.
Praise the Lord, all nations;
Praise Him, all people.
For He 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.
Download the FULL SCORE of Mozart’s Laudate Dominum from the Vesperae solennes de confessore (K.339) Mozart: Laudate Dominum K339 FULL SCORE
Download the PIANO VOCAL SCORE of Mozart’s Laudate Dominum from the Vesperae solennes de confessore (K.339) Mozart: Laudate Dominum K339 PIANO VOCAL SCORE
Download the SIMPLIFIED PIANO AND LATIN LYRICS of Mozart’s Laudate Dominum from the Vesperae solennes de confessore (K.339) Mozart: Laudate Dominum K339 Simplified Piano and Latin Lyrics
A full discussion of Catholic Church Vespers can be found HERE.
A site that demonstrates an ongoing LOVE AFFAIR with this beautiful work can be found HERE.
The Vesperae solennes de confessore (K.339), discussed above, is occasionally confused with Vesperae solennes de Dominica, K. 321, is a sacred work for four solo voices (soprano, alto, tenor, bass), mixed choir, orchestra and organ composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1779. It was composed in Salzburg ONE YEAR BEFORE the first Vesper setting, at the request of the Archbishop Colloredo. There are six movements, No.5 of which is also called Laudate Dominum. Download the Full score of this work HERE.