Sicut Cervus

Sicut Cervus Is the name of a song written by another Renaissance composer named Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina.

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Sicut cervus is a motet for four voices by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. What is a motet, you ask? A motet is a polyphonic choral composition on a sacred text usually without instrumental accompaniment. It sets the beginning of Psalm 42, Psalmus XLII in the Latin version of the Psalterium Romanum rather than the Vulgate Bible. The incipit is “Sicut cervus desiderat ad fontes” (As the deer desires the fountains) followed by a second part (secunda pars) “Sitivit anima mea” (My soul thirsts). It was published in 1604 in Motecta festorum, Liber 2, and has become one of Palestrina’s most popular motets, regarded as a model of Renaissance polyphony, expressing spiritual yearning.

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, (born c. 1525, Palestrina, near Rome [Italy]—died February 2, 1594, Rome), was an Italian Renaissance composer of more than 105 masses and 250 motets, a master of contrapuntal composition.

Palestrina lived during the period of the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation and was a primary representative of the 16th-century conservative approach to church music.

Palestrina was born in a small town where his ancestors are thought to have lived for generations, but as a child he was taken to nearby Rome. In 1537 he was one of the choirboys at the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, where he also studied music between 1537 and 1539. In 1544 Palestrina was engaged as organist and singer in the cathedral of his native town. His duties included playing the organ, helping with the choir, and teaching music. His pay was that of a canon and would have been received in money and kind. His prowess at the church there attracted the attention of the bishop, Giovanni Maria Ciocchi del Monte, who later became Pope Julius III.

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