“This slight work consists of only three pieces... anyone liking this work of mine may find that it can be used to good effect as a substitute for a German Missa, and possibly for the Feast of the Purification...”
Thus did Heinrich Schütz hope to give the three pieces he composed for the funeral of Prince Heinrich Reuss Posthumus a life beyond their specific commission. Shortly after the death of the prince in December 1635, Schütz received a commission from the widow to set the nearly two dozen scriptural verses and chorale strophes that the prince had ordered engraved on the copper coffin in which he was interred.
Not only the choice of texts but also their order was prescribed, presenting Schütz with the formidable task of devising a coherent musical structure from a disparate array of texts. His ingenious solution to the architectural and musical problems was to manipulate the texts into “the form of a German Burial Mass”, parsing them so as to paraphrase the Kyrie and Gloria. Thus resulted one of his finest masterpieces, the vocal concerto for six voices and continuo Nakket bin ich von Mutterleibe kommen (SWV 279). Schütz also provided two motets for the funeral service, one a setting of the verses from Psalm 73 which served as the sermon text, Herr, wenn ich nur dich habe (SWV 280), the other a setting of the Canticle of Simeon, Herr, nun leßestu deinen Diener in Friede fahren (SWV 281), which the prince wished to have sung during the interment of his coffin. The three works were later published together in an elegant edition as the Musikalische Exequien.
This track comprises the opening, or "Kyrie" section of the first of the three parts of the Musikalische Exequien.
Nakket bin Ich von Mutterleibe kommen,
nakket werde ich wiederum dahin fahren.
Der Herr hats gegeben, der Herr hats genommen,
der Name des Herrn sei gelobet.
(Job 1 v. 21)
Herr Gott, Vater in Himmel, erbarm dich über uns!
Christus ist mein Leben,
Sterben ist mein Gewinn.
(Philip. I v. 21.)
Siehe das ist Gottes Lamb, das der Welt Sünde trägt.
(Johan. 1. v. 29.)
Jesu Christe, Gottes Sohn, erbarm dich über uns.
Leben wir, so leben wir dem Herren,
sterben wir so sterben dem Herren.
Darum: wir leben oder sterben, so sind wir des Herren.
(Römer. 14. v. 8.)
Herr Gott, Heiliger Geist, erbarm dich über uns!
Naked I came out of my mother’s womb,
and naked shall I return thither.
The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away,
blessed be the name of the Lord.
(Job 1: 21)
Lord God, Father in heaven, have mercy on us!
For to me to live is Christ,
and to die is my reward.
(Philippians 1: 21)
Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of
(John 1: 29)
Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us!
For whether we live, we live unto the Lord,
and whether we die, we die unto the Lord.
therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
(Romans 14: 8)
Lord God, Holy Spirit, have mercy on us!
released July 13, 2009
Warren Stewart, artistic director
Ruth Escher & Jennifer Paulino, soprano
Kristen Dubenion Smith & Daniel Hutchings, alto
Paul Elliott & Martin Hummel, tenor
Hugh Davies & Peter Becker, bass
John Dornenburg, violone
David Tayler, mandora
Katherine Heater, organ
Live, undedited performance from Feb. 4, 2009 at St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco CA, Boby Borisov, engineer.