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Motet Notes

Johann Hermann Schein: "Nu danket alle Gott"


Johann Hermann Schein's Israels Brünnlein (Fountains of Israel), published in the year 1623 and dedicated to the Leipzig city government, is designated as a set of sacred madrigals for five voices and continuo. The printed music indicated further that they were composed "in a special graceful Italian madrigal manner." From this set of 27 short settings of psalms and other lyrical passages from the Bible, comes today’s motet “Nu danket alle Gott.” The text is from Ben Sirach or Ecclesiasticus 50:22-24. The Italian manner in which Schein sets the text is, for the most part, that of early Monteverdi, giving distinct text painting to each phrase. The only exception to this is charming antiphonal setting of “Ergebe uns ein fröhliches Herz” (that He might give us a joyful heart). The motet concludes with an expansive mellisma-like treatment of the text “so lange wir leben” (as long as we live).

© Ryan Turner