composed his Stabat Mater, for soprano, mixed chorus and orchestra,
during 1950 and 1951. The first performance took place at the Strasbourg
Festival on April 22, 1951.
The composition, in the form of a "grand motet," is
a setting of a thirteenth-century hymn in Latin attributed to Jacopone da
Todi. The hymn is about the reaction of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the
crucifixion of her son Jesus. "Stabat Mater" means "the mother was
standing." The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1980) describes
Poulenc's Stabat Mater as "a powerful and profoundly moving work."
Poulenc was moved to write the work by the death of
a friend, Christian Bérard, a painter and set designer.
Poulenc's Stabat Mater is in twelve
1. Stabat mater dolorosa (Très calme)
2. Cujus animam gementem (Allegro molto--Très violent)
3. O quam tristis (Très lent)
4. Quae moerebat (Andantino)
5. Quis est homo (Allegro molto--Prestissimo)
6. Vidit suum (Andante)
7. Eja mater (Allegro)
8. Fac ut ardeat (Maestoso)
9. Sancta mater (Moderato--Allegretto)
10. Fac ut portem (To. de Sarabande)
11. Inflammatus et accensus (Animé et très rythmé)
12. Quando corpus (Très calme)
Latin Text of the Stabat Mater Dolorosa,
with English translation
Stabat Mater dolorosa
juxta crucem lacrymosa
dum pendebat Filius.
The mother was standing full of sorrow, weeping
near the cross, while on it her son was hanging.
Cuius aninam gementem,
contristatam ac dolentem
A sword pierced her sighing soul, saddened and
O quam tristis et afflicta
fuit illa benedicta
Oh how sad and afflicted was that blessed one, the
Mother of the Only Begotten!
Quae moerebat et dolebat
Pia Mater, dum videbat
Nati poenas inclyti.
The virtuous mother was lamenting and grieving,
while she saw the punishments of her glorious Son.
Quis est homo qui non fleret
Matrem Christi si videret
in tanto supplicio?
Who is there who would not weep to see the Mother
of Christ in such torture?
Quis non posset contristari,
Matrem Christi contemplari
dolentem cum Filio?
Who cannot be saddened, to contemplate the Mother
of Christ grieving with her Son?
Pro peccatis suae gentis
vidit Jesum in tormentis
et flagellis subditum.
For the sins of his people, she saw Jesus placed
in torments and scourges.
Vidit suum dulcem Natum
dum emisit spiritum.
She saw her sweet Son dying desolate while he sent
forth his spirit.
Eia Mater, fons amoris,
me sentire vim doloris,
fac, ut tecum lugeam.
Ah Mother, fountain of love, make me feel the
force of your sorrow, so that I may mourn with you.
Fac ut ardeat cor meum
in amando Christum Deum,
ut sibi complaceam.
Make my heart be on fire in loving Christ, my God,
so that I may please him also.
Sancta Mater, istud agas,
crucifixi figi plagas
cordi meo valide.
Holy Mother, do that, fix strongly on my heart the
wounds of the Crucified One.
Tui Nati vulnerati,
tam dignati pro me pati,
poenas mecum divide.
Share with me the punishments of your wounded Son
who so deigned to suffer for me.
Fac me tecum vere flere,
donec ego vixero.
Make me truly weep with you, to suffer with the
Crucified One, as long as I shall live.
Juxta crucem tecum stare,
te libenter sociare
in planctu desidero.
I wish to stand near the cross with you, to share
willingly in the lamentation.
Virgo virginum praeclara,
mihi iam non sis amara:
fac me tecum plangere.
Distinguished virgin of virgins, be not bitter to
me now: let me grieve with you.
Fac ut portem Christi mortem,
passionis fac consortem
et plagas recollere.
Make me bear the death of Christ, make me be a
sharer of his passion and recollect his blows.
Fac me plagis vulnerari,
cruce hac inebriari
ob amorem Filii.
Make me wounded with the blows, to be inebriated
by this cross because of love of the Son.
Inflammatus et accensus,
per te, Virgo, sim defensus
in die iudicii.
Kindled and inflamed for you, Virgin, may I be
defended on the day of judgment.
Christe, cum sit hunc exire,
da per Matrem me venire
ad palmam victoriae.
Christ, when I must go hence, let me come for the
sake of Your Mother to the palm of victory.
Quando corpus morietur,
fac ut animae donetur,
When my body dies, grant that the glory of
paradise be given to my soul. Amen!
Translation copyright 2000-2004 John R. Pierce
excellent recording of Poulenc's Stabat Mater, and of his Gloria
as well, features Kathleen Battle, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and
the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Seiji Ozawa.
Available from amazon.com
Poulenc: Stabat Mater & Gloria, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Tanglewood
Festival Chorus, Kathleen Battle, Seiji Ozawa, amazon.co.uk
Robert Shaw conducts the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus with soloist
Christine Goerke in a recording of Poulenc's Stabat Mater on the same
compact disc as a recording of Karol Szymanowski's Stabat Mater.
Poulenc - Gloria; Stabat Mater;
Litanies à la Vierge noire
Catherine Dubosc, Westminster Singers, City of
London Sinfonia, conducted by Richard Hickox
February 4, 2000
I attended a performance of Poulenc's Stabat Mater by the Boston
Symphony Orchestra conducted by Bernard Haitink with soprano soloist
Dominique Labelle and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. The chorus was very
good, at times a bit more vigorous than I would have wished. Their
enunciation of the Latin text was generally quite clear.
whom I have liked very much in performances of other works (a Verdi Requiem
at MIT and Haydn's The Creation at Carnegie Hall), was somewhat
disappointing. The soprano has a relatively small part, but she is called on
to sing beautifully and loudly. Labelle's voice unfortunately was not
especially beautiful, nor did it soar quite loudly enough for the words "paradisi
gloria" near the end. Kathleen Battle did a much better job in her recording
with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
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