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Jesu dulcis memoria

- Walker Williams


PDF Sample

Use: General, Holy Name
Required Resources: SAB choir, organ
Language: Latin

The first part of this long poem by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) was sung as the Vespers hymn on the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. These same five verses are set in this motet by the young composer Walker Williams, pursuing an advanced degree in composition at the University of British Columbia:

  1. Jesu dulcis memoria
    dans vera cordi gaudia:
    sed super mel et omnia
    ejus dulcis praesentia.
  2. Nil canitur suavius,
    nil auditur jucundius,
    nil cogitatur dulcius,
    quam Jesus Dei Filius.
  3. Jesu, spes paenitentibus,
    quam pius es petentibus!
    quam bonus te quaerentibus!
    sed quid invenientibus?
  4. Nec lingua valet dicere,
    nec littera exprimere:
    expertus potest credere,
    quid sit Jesum diligere.
  5. Sis, Jesu, nostrum gaudium,
    qui es futurus praemium:
    sit nostra in te gloria,
    per cuncta semper saecula.

Verse 1 is set as an alto or baritone solo over simple, sustained organ notes. In Verse 2, the altos have the chant melody, with a florid soprano "descant" above. Verse 3 puts the melody in the men's part, with the ladies singing in harmony on a neutral syllable. The pedal also plays the melody, with a soft reed stop; a chant-like countermelody appears on a solo stop.

The only a cappella section, Verse 4 is scored for SAB choir, with melody in the soprano. After a rich strong interlude, the choir sings Verse 5 in unison, over a fuller organ accompaniment. The piece ends quietly with unison Amens and a Picardy third on the final D Major chord.

The piece was commissioned for a church high school choir and is particularly well suited for these voices. The parts are not overly demanding and the effect is superb.


Order #: 2016
Price: $1.90


- Choral Music
- Ordinary Time
- 3-pt Choir
- Latin
- Chant

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