Dutch/Example 16

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Intermediate level: cycle 4
Voorbeeld 16 ~ Example 16


Clemens non papa

Souterliedekens[edit | edit source]

The Habsburgian Netherlands in 1548

Jacobus Clemens non Papa (ca. 1510- 1556) was a prolific composer of the Renaissance period in what was then the Habsburgian Netherlands. These were 17 provinces ruled by Karel V of Habsburg, who was also German emperor and king of Spain. Karel was born in Ghent and his 17 provinces, where he resided, covered what is now the Benelux plus a considerable chunk of territory that is now part of France. Soon the religious wars would make the northern 7 provinces and independent republic, dominated by the Calvinist church, while the south would remain under the -most Catholic- Habsburg king who resided in Spain. Wars between France and Spain would then lead to loss of territory to France. Apart from these French territories, the North and South would be briefly reunited from 1815-1830 to fall apart again into the Netherlands, Belgium an Luxemburg as they are today.

We do not know much about Clemens's personal life. He might have been born in Zeeland, north of today's border with Belgium. He certainly worked south of it in Brugge, but also north in 's-Hertogenbosch. He is probably buried in Diksmuide in Belgium.

Although most of his work is in Latin and quite polyphonic, Dutch was his mother tongue and he is particularly famous for writing the Souterliedekens (the little songs of the Psalter). He took melodies of popular folk songs and a Dutch translation of the Psalms and then made three part polyphonic pieces out of that. This video gives an example of his work. First the text of the 31st psalm ("Saligh sij zijn") is sung on a folk melody a cappella solo. Then the folk song itself ("Een lied eerbaer") is sung with accompaniment. Lastly the psalm returns, now in a three part a cappella setting. As you will hear, ij is not a diphthong yet but is still pronounced as a long [i:] sound in 16th century Dutch.

First study the text below. On the left is the original 16th century Dutch that differs quite a bit from the language today. On the right is the modern version

Een lied eerbaer
Een eerbaar lied
Een lied eerbaer van die liefste moet ic singhen,
Scheyden van haer bedroeft mijn hart en sinnen,
Sy is certeyn de alderliefste greyn
boven alle schoone vrouwen;
door haer alleyn treur ick in rouwen.
Een eerbaar lied over mijn geliefde moet ik zingen
Te scheiden van haar bedroeft mijn hart en zinnen
Zij is zeker de allerliefste schat
boven alle schone vrouwen
Door haar alleen treur ik in rouw.
Psalm 31
Psalm 31
Salich sij zijn
Wiens boosheyt is vergheven
Bedect (hoort mij)
Wiens sonden zijn ghebleven
Salich ick meyn
Is hy dyen God alleyn
Gheen sonden wil toescriven
Wiens gheest certeyn
Van bedroch wel reyn can bliven.
Zalig zijn zij
van wie de boosheid vergeven is
Vervloekt (hoor mij!)
van wie de zonden gebleven zijn
Zalig, meen ik,
is hij aan wie God alleen
geen zonden toeschrijven wil
wiens geest zeker
van bedrog wel rein kan blijven
Translation • Example 16 • Een lied eerbaer
An honorable song I must sing of my beloved
To separate from her saddens my heart and senses
She surely is the most precious darling
of all beautiful women
By her alone I lament in mourning
Translation • Example 16 • Psalm 31
Blessed are they
whose evil is forgiven
Cursed (hear me!)
whose sins have remained
Blessed, in my opinion
is he to whom God only
does not want to ascribe sins
whose spirit surely
can remain pure from deceit