Les Mystères: attendez l’Époux

By Suzy Robinson

I wanted to write something based on a mediaeval mystery play and happened across an 11th Century version of the play of the Bridegroom – the tale of the wise and the foolish virgins. It was called Sponsus and is the oldest of this type of play written in both the vernacular and in Latin. What is even more extraordinary is that it is, in fact, a trilingual text in Latin, langue d’oc, and some words in the langue d’oïl. The passage which I have set is in langue d’oc, but for ease of singing I used a modern-French translation.

I am very taken by the patchwork nature of mystery plays which is part promenade, part liturgy, part staged, part audience participation. I hope that having set a straightforwardly strophic text and usinginstruments more often heard in Early Music, jigsaws well with the more modern angular and sometimes dissonant nature of the melodic lines of this piece. I love the play of languages, and the mixing up through words and music of past, present, and future, revealing that time is perhaps a circuitous exploration rather than a strictly linear trajectory. “And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time.”

Photo credit: Suzy Robinson
A setting for soprano, baroque violin, and viola da gamba of an 11thC provencal lyric. Composed by Suzy Robinson.
Performed by Suzy Robinson, May Robertson,
and Lucine Musaelian on 9 December 2022.

Video is an original creation by Suzy Robinson ©️2023

Oiet, virgines, aiso que vos dirum;
Oiet, virgines, aiso que vos dirum;
Aiseet presen que vos comandarum.
Atendet un espos, Jhesu salvaire a nom,
Gaire no i dormet!

Aisel espos que vos hor’atendet,
Venit en terra per los vostres pechet;
De la Virgine en Betleem fo net,
E flum Jorda lavet et luteet.
Gaire no i dormet!

Aisel espos que vos hor’atendet
Eu fo batut, gablet e laidenjet,
Sus e la crot batu e claufiget:
Deu monumen deso entrepauset.
Gaire no i dormet!

Aisel espos que vos hor’atendet
E resors es, la scriptura a dii.
Gabriels soi, eu trames aici.
Atendet lo, que ja venra praici.
Gaire no i dormet!

From a manuscript (Bibl. nat. fonds latin, 1139) written for the Abbey of Saint-Martial de Limoges, in the 11th century.

Vierges, oyez ce que nous vous dirons. Ayez présent ce que vous enjoindrons.
Attendez un époux, Jésus Sauveur a nom
Guère ne dormez.

Et cet époux, qu’à présent attendez,
Vint en la terre pour les vôtres péchés;
Et de la Vierge en Bethléem fût né,
Dans le Jourdain lavé et baptisé,
Guère ne dormez!

Et cet époux qu’à présent attendez,
Il fût battu, moqué et outragé
Et sur la croix, battu de clous percé;
Dans le tombeau son corps fût déposé Guère ne dormez!

Et cet époux qu’à présent attendez,
Ressuscita! l’Ecriture l’a dit.
Gabriel suis, moi qui vous parle ici.
Attendez-le; il viendra par ici. Guère ne dormez !

Modern French by translation by Louis Petit de Julleville, 1881

Virgins, listen to what we say:
Be ready for Him who makes his way;
For the Bridegroom, Jesus, a vigil keep
And make sure that you scarcely sleep!

And the Bridegroom for whom you wake,
Came down to earth your sins to take.
In Bethlehem to childbed a maid was brought;
In Jordan’s river His baptism He sought.
So make sure that you scarcely sleep!

And this Bridegroom for whom you wait
Was beaten, mocked, in abject state,
Pierced with nails on a cross displayed,
And in a tomb His body laid.
So make sure that you scarcely sleep!

And the Bridegroom whom you attend
As Scripture says, He rose again!
Gabriel I am, I address you here,
Be ready, I say, for He is near,
And make sure that you scarcely sleep!

English translation by Suzy Robinson, December 2022

Score is now available to buy as a digital download from
https://tinyurl.com/DigitalDownloadsuzyrobinson

www.sheetmusicdirect.com

SheetMusicPlus.com

With many thanks to May Robertson https://mayrobertson.com/ and Lucine Musaelian https://m.youtube.com/user/musicbylucine

Philomel In Short @ Richmond

Richmond Unitarian Church hosted Philomel In Short on 31 October 2020, for a socially distanced concert featuring music by Strozzi, Mazzocchi, Monteverdi, Sheena Phillips, Paul Ayres, Emily Doolittle, Janet Oates and Tansy Davies. Philomel were again thrilled to be performing a combination of their early repertoire, and some specially-commissioned musical miniatures in a concert which slid in just under the wire before Lockdown 2.

Emily Doolittle | Landscape Music

Break of day, from Virelais
words of John Donne set by
Emily Doolittle

‘Tis true, ‘tis day, what though it be?
O wilt thou therefore rise from me?
Why should we rise because ‘tis light?
Did we lie down because ‘twas night?
Love, which in spite of darkness brought us hither,
Should in despite of light keep us together.

Light hath no tongue, but is all eye;
If it could speak as well as spy,
This were the worst that it could say,
That being well I fain would stay,
And that I loved my heart and honour so,
That I would not from him, that had them, go.

Must business thee from hence remove?
Oh, that’s the worst disease of love,
The poor, the foul, the false, love can
Admit, but not the busied man.
He which hath business, and makes love, doth do
Such wrong, as when a married man doth woo.

Source: Selected Poetry (Oxford University Press, 1998)

Hashtag #strozzi na Twitteru

Che si puo fare by Barbara Strozzi
Suzy Robinson, soprano
Janet Oates, recorder
Toby Carr, theorbo

Folle cor by Domenico Mazzocchi
Domenico Mazzocchi – Primephonic

Suzy Robinson, soprano
Janet Oates, soprano
Felicity Hayward, soprano
Toby Carr, theorbo

Musical Miniatures: recording workshop

Philomel is back with some socially-distant workshop-recordings of newly written musical miniatures. Stay, O Sweet from Virelais is a setting of words by John Donne by Canadian-born Glasgow-based composer Emily Doolittle.

Recorded in Richmond Unitarian Church, August 2020. Suzy Robinson, Janet Oates and Michael Keen perform.

Stay O Sweet (video)

Emilydoolittle.com

Philomel.co.uk

Cecilia Sings: Philomel in concert 4 May 2019

The six sopranos of Philomel will be performing their Cecilia Sings concert on Saturday 4 May, 7.30pm, at St George the Martyr, Southwark. It will be a repeat of the eclectic programme performed at the Swiss Church, Covent Garden, last autumn. 

With music by early 17th century composers such as Barbara Strozzi, Maddalena Casulana and Domenico Mazzocchi, alongside specially commissioned works by Dominic McGonigal, Sheena Phillips, Joel Järventausta and Janet Oates, this promises to be an unforgettable evening of sublime music. 
Here is a short video of highlights from Cecilia Sings Cecilia Sings
Tickets can be bought in advance here https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/philomel or on the door.
Take a look at Philomel’s website for more information  http://philomel.co.uk/

Philomel: Cecilia Sings

24 November 2018, the Swiss Church, Covent Garden

Join us for an evening of stunning singing, accompanied by theorbo, harpsichord and recorder. The forthcoming concert for Saint Cecilia’s day, Cecilia Sings, will continue the theme of bird mythology that was initiated in the first three concerts, melded with ideas about Saint Cecilia. Text and artwork by students from Marylebone Girls’ School will illustrate newly commissioned works on the theme of female power, passion and spirit by Janet Oates (with new text by Euan Tait), Sheena Phillips, Dominic McGonigal and Joel Jårventausta. Further repertoire includes expressive songs by Francesca Caccini and Barbara Strozzi, virtuosic duets by Mazzocchi, and beautiful madrigals by Maddalena Casulana.

https://www.facebook.com/1557726077592995/posts/2046247278740870/

http://www.philomel.co.uk

Book tickets

https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/philomel

Location

The Swiss Church in London

79 Endell St, London WC2H 9DY

020 7836 1418

https://goo.gl/maps/GwtvsUaD8QC2