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Gregorio Allegri
c.1582 - 1652
G. Allegri
Gregorio Allegri (c. 1582 - 07 or 17/02/1652) was a Roman Catholic priest and Italian composer of the Roman School and brother of Domenico Allegri; he was also a singer. He was born and died in Rome.
Libera me, Domine de morte
Period:Late Renaissance
Musical form:Motet a 8 vocibus inaequales
Text/libretto:Latin from the Exsequiarum Ordo de Officium Defunctorum
The ”Libera me, Domine de morte” is in general a plainchant from the Exsequiarum Ordo more specific a Responsorium/Respond sung during the final blessing of the coffin on its catafalque. This Libera me (there are four (4) plain-chant variations known) is an old Responsorium and sung in the part Absolutio super tulum and is published in the old Liber Usualis pages part In Exsequies 1767 – 1768, edition 1936. Following the text Allegri uses the normal published text version as mentioned above but only a first small part of this respond is set by him in a polyphonic way. In this case the small motet “Libera me, Domine de morte aeterna” is written by Allegri in short polyphonic but imposing polychoral setting for eight voices CATB x CATB.
Allegri is in general famous about his polychoral settings, we only mention the well-known Miserere a setting of psalm 50 even so often used in the Office of the Dead which is published in the old liber Usualis part Officium Defunctorum pages 1800-1801, edition1936. For good understanding of this Respond Libera me, Domine de morte, we publish here below the overall text of this Respond. The used words by Allegri have we placed between brackets.
This motet consists out of 55 measures and in the Service this setting will be added with the belonging plainchant of this Respond in accordance with the Gregorian tradition.
This motet is written by Allegri in the late Renaissance. Allegri uses descending and ascending lines in function of the text and so with flats and sharps. In measures 29 up to 31 Allegri imitates the moving of the earth and heavens. The Choir I starts with movendi sunt followed by choir II two seconds later! You hear the earth moving. And see more measure 33 with different rhythm in “et terra” in Choir II. This motet Libera me, Domine de morte is set in d-Dorian. See further more descending lines in “saeculum” (measure 47 to 50) in nearly all voices starting in Choir I with Tenor followed by Altus, Bassus and further in Choir II by Tenor, Bassus and Altus.
In this moving music Allegri paints subtle in short items the horrors and pains of the final Judgment Day. This motet is found in the Fortunatus Santini a Domino Josepho Jannacconi collection, former owned by Giuseppe Jannacconi (1740-1816) and is now part of the so-called Santini-collection in Münster, Germany. Forunato Santini (1777-1861) was a priest, who collected sacred music from the 16th up to the 19th century. The Santini collection is in the Santini bibliotheca of Münster, Germany.
Author:Wim Goossens
[R. Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna in die illa tremenda
quando coeli movendi sunt et terra dum veneris judicare saeculum per ignem.]
V. Tremens factus sum ego et timeo, dum discussion venerit atque venture ira:
quando coeli movendi sunt et terra.
V. Dies irae, dies illa, calamitatis et miseriae, dies magna et amara valde.
R. Dum veneris judicare saeculum per ignem.
V. Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine et lux perpetua luceat eis.
R. Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna in die illa tremenda.
Kyrië eleison,
Christe eleison,
Kyrië eleison.
Requiescat in pace.

[R. Deliver me, O Lord, from eternal death, on that fearful day,
when the heavens and the earth are moved,
when you will come to judge the world through fire.]
V. I am seized with fear and trembling, until the trial is at hand and the wrath to come:
when the heavens and earth shall be shaken.
V. That day, the day of wrath, calamity, and misery, that terrible,
and exceedingly bitter day.
R. When you will come to judge the world through fire.
V. Eternal rest give unto them, Lord and may over lasting light shine upon them.
R. Deliver me, Lord and may over lasting light shine upon them.
O Lord have mercy,
Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy.
May they rest in peace.
Contributor:Wim Goossens