Psalm 50 from Psaume de David

Composer: Antonia Bembo (b. 1640 - d. 1720)
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Composer: Antonia Bembo (b. 1640 - d. 1720)

Performance date: 30/06/2019

Venue: St. Brendan’s Church

Composition Year: 1665-1729

Duration: 00:06:22

Recording Engineer: Gar Duffy, RTÉ

Instrumentation Category:Baroque Ensemble

Instrumentation Other: s-solo, 2vn, vc, hpd

Artists: Ensemble Dagda (Clodagh Kinsella [soprano], Caitríona O'Mahony, Marja Gaynor [violins], Norah O'Leary [cello], Kieran Finnegan [harpsicord]) - [baroque ensemble]

Antonia Padoani Bembo quite literally embodies the pre-occupation of French composers in the eighteenth century, the goûts-réunis
or unification of French and Italian styles. She also crosses the
boundaries between the principally secular composers like Strozzi and
Caccini and the religious nun-composers of Lombardy. Educated like
Strozzi by Francesco Cavalli, Antonia produced a range of works
including arias, cantatas, motets and opera. Antonia is the evidence of
the darker side of respectable marriage and motherhood. Her career in
France came about as a result of her fleeing from her abusive,
spendthrift and adulterous husband, nobleman Lorenzo Bembo. She found a
supporter, and possibly lover, in the guitarist Francesco Corbetta, who
assisted her in her journey to France, and accompanied her as a singer,
helping to launch her career at the French court. In Paris she came
under the patronage of Louis XIV, in the same period as Jacquet de la
Guerre. Bembo was granted a pension by Louis to the Petite-Union Chrétienne des dames de Chaumont,
a religious community of women with an educational mission. The lives
of Bembo and a number of other lay women living in the community would
have very closely followed that of the nuns, with days based around
schedules of prayer and holy offices. Bembo’s surviving works come to us
mostly from collections she prepared while living in Paris, bearing
dedications to the King. Her psalm settings are among her latest works
and display her assimilation into French life and music in both their
language use and musical idiom. 

Je t’eusse
offert, Seigneur, des agneaux innocens

would have offered innocent lambs to you, oh Lord

Si lemur
sang répandu t’eût rendu favorable

the spilled blood would have pleased you

Mais tu refuserois la victime et

you refused the victim and the praise

Presentez d’une main coupable

with a guilty hand

sacrifice que tu veux

sacrifice that you want

C’est d’un coeur penitent les soûpirs
et les voeux;

are the pains and wishes of a repentant heart;

Tu ne
méprise pas un coeur qui s’humilie.

do not scorn a heart which is humble,

Je t’immole
le mien, accepte-le, Seigneur;

sacrifice my own, accept it, oh Lord

Je consacre aux regrets d’une fatale

have given myself over to the regrets of a fatal error 

Les restes malheureux d’une coupable

unfortunate remnants of a guilty life

De ta Jerusalem sois le solide appuy,

strong in your Jerusalem,

Ne souffre
pas que mon malheur l’opprime.

not allow my misfortune to oppress it.

Pardonne à mon Peuple aujourd’huy;

my people this day;

Et sur des innocens ne punis pas mon

do not punish innocents for my crime.

Sion; que de fameux remparts

Zion anew; let famous ramparts

L’environnent de toutes parts.

it from all sides.

Alors pour rendre grace à tes bontes

order to thank your suitable kindnesses,

Au pied de tes Autels humblement

bowed at the foot of your Altars, 

Seigneur, je t’offiray de pompeux

I shall offer you glorious sacrifices;

Et mon peuple
verra que tu m’as pardonné.

And my people
will see that you have forgiven me.