Michael O’Sullivan: Stabat Mater (Orchestral score)

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This is a typeset score (193pp).

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Michael O’Sullivan: Stabat Mater (Orchestral score).

This is a typeset score (193pp).

I. Stabat Mater dolorosa
II. Cuius animam gementem
III. Oquam tristis
IV. Quae maerebat et dolebat
V(a). Quis now passer contristari
V(b). Pro peccatis suae gentis
V(c). Vidit suum dulcem natum
VI. Eia Mater fons amaris
VII. Tui Nati vulnerati
VIII. Iusta Crucem tecum stare
IX. Virgo Virginum
X. Fac ut portem Christi mortem
XI. Flammis ne urar succensus
XII. Quando corpus mortietur

The Stabat Mater Dolorosa (“Sorrowful Mother Standing”) is considered one of the seven greatest Latin hymns of all time. It is based on the biblical prophecy of Simeon that a sword would pierce the heart of The Virgin Mary (Luke 2:35).

The Stabat Mater text is attributed to the Franciscan friar Jacapone da Todi (d.1306). It focuses on the sufferings of Mary as a grieving mother at the foot of the Cross of Jesus. The text is used for the Roman Catholic feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows (15th September), and has been given many varied musical treatments by composers over the course of history, including famous settings by Pergolesi, Dvorak and Pärt.

On a purely human level, the poem deals with perhaps the keenest manifestation of grief of all – that of a mother watching her beloved child suffer and die. In the context of the Christian account of redemption Mary is participating in Christ’s sacrifice for the salvation of humankind. The depths of this ‘cosmic grief’ experienced by the Mother of God at the foot of the cross transcend time and place to embrace the sufferings of humanity.

The author of the poem takes the vantage point of a devout onlooker or pilgrim, who for the first eight stanzas is set apart as third-person narrator for this tragic scene. Then in the ninth stanza, with the impassioned address “Eia Mater, fons amoris”, the pilgrim casts off the role of observer with a string of ardent personal appeals to the Divine Mother to share in her sorrows. There is a corresponding change in the tone of the music from this point: grief is mingled with hope, and the darkness is penetrated by light anticipating Easter joy.

 

This piece is 45 minutes long.

The Vocal score is also available for this piece.