Music for Pentecost 21 — Sunday October 30 2022

Placare Christe servulis (Op. 38, No. 16) – Marcel Dupré (1886-1971)


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Marcel Dupré (1886-1971) was the foremost French organ virtuoso of his time, famed for his ability to improvise, and influential as a teacher. Composed during the summer vacation of 1942, Dupré’s opus 38, entitled Le tombeau de Titelouze, is a memorial to Jehan Titelouze, who was organist of Rouen Cathedral for forty-five years, from 1588 (the year of the Spanish Armada) until his death at the age of seventy, in 1633. The sixteen brief pieces in opus 38 are based on plainsong melodies from Gregorian sources. The last piece in the collection, this Sunday’s postlude in church, is a toccata based on the All Saints hymn Placare Christe servulis, which itself dates from the 9th century. The first two verses of this ancient hymn read as follows:

To thy poor servants reconciled

Show mercy, Christ, for whom the mild

And Virgin Patroness this grace

Implore before thy Father’s face.

Ye glorious hosts, whose circle nine

Before God’s throne refulgent shine,

Shield us with your celestial arms

From past, present, and future harms.

Gerald Harder