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Stabat Mater

Composer: Oechsner, Andreas Johann Lorenz

Instruments: Voice Soprano Alto Tenor Bass Mixed chorus Orchestra

Tags: Religious music Mass Sequence

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The "Stabat Mater" is a 13th-century Christian hymn to Mary, which portrays her suffering as Jesus Christ's mother during his crucifixion. Its author may be either the Franciscan friar Jacopone da Todi or Pope Innocent III. The title comes from its first line, "Stabat Mater dolorosa", which means "the sorrowful mother was standing".
The hymn is sung at the liturgy on the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. The "Stabat Mater" has been set to music by many Western composers.
The "Stabat Mater" has often been ascribed to Jacopone da Todi, OFM (ca. 1230–1306), but this has been strongly challenged by the discovery of the earliest notated copy of the "Stabat Mater" in a 13th-century gradual belonging to the Dominican nuns in Bologna (Museo Civico Medievale MS 518, fo. 200v-04r).
The "Stabat Mater" was well known by the end of the 14th century and Georgius Stella wrote of its use in 1388, while other historians note its use later in the same century. In Provence, about 1399, it was used during the nine days' processions.
As a liturgical sequence, the "Stabat Mater" was suppressed, along with hundreds of other sequences, by the Council of Trent, but restored to the missal by Pope Benedict XIII in 1727 for the Feast of the Seven Dolours of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The following translation by Edward Caswall is not literal, and represents the trochaic tetrameter rhyme scheme, and sense of the original text.
1. Stabat mater dolorósa juxta Crucem lacrimósa, dum pendébat Fílius. 2. Cuius ánimam geméntem, contristátam et doléntem pertransívit gládius. 3. O quam tristis et afflícta fuit illa benedícta, mater Unigéniti! 4. Quae mœrébat et dolébat, pia Mater, dum vidébat nati pœnas ínclyti. 5. Quis est homo qui non fleret, matrem Christi si vidéret in tanto supplício? 6. Quis non posset contristári Christi Matrem contemplári doléntem cum Fílio? 7. Pro peccátis suæ gentis vidit Iésum in torméntis, et flagéllis súbditum. 8. Vidit suum dulcem Natum moriéndo desolátum, dum emísit spíritum. 9. Eja, Mater, fons amóris me sentíre vim dolóris fac, ut tecum lúgeam. 10. Fac, ut árdeat cor meum in amándo Christum Deum ut sibi compláceam. 11. Sancta Mater, istud agas, crucifíxi fige plagas cordi meo válide. 12. Tui Nati vulneráti, tam dignáti pro me pati, pœnas mecum dívide. 13. Fac me vera tecum flere, crucifíxo condolére, donec ego víxero. 14. Juxta Crucem tecum stare, et me tibi sociáre in planctu desídero. 15. Virgo vírginum præclára, mihi iam non sis amára, fac me tecum plángere. 16. Fac, ut portem Christi mortem, passiónis fac consórtem, et plagas recólere. 17. Fac me plagis vulnerári, fac me Cruce inebriári, et cruóre Fílii. 18. Flammis orci ne succendar, per te virgo fac defendar, in die iudícii. 19. Fac me cruce custodiri, Morte Christi praemuniri, confoveri gratia. 20. Quando corpus moriétur, fac, ut ánimæ donétur paradísi glória. Amen.
At the Cross her station keeping, stood the mournful Mother weeping, close to her Son to the last. Through her heart, His sorrow sharing, all His bitter anguish bearing, now at length the sword has passed. O how sad and sore distressed was that Mother, highly blest, of the sole-begotten One. Christ above in torment hangs, she beneath beholds the pangs of her dying glorious Son. Is there one who would not weep, whelmed in miseries so deep, Christ's dear Mother to behold? Can the human heart refrain from partaking in her pain, in that Mother's pain untold? For the sins of His own nation, She saw Jesus wracked with torment, All with scourges rent: She beheld her tender Child, Saw Him hang in desolation, Till His spirit forth He sent. O thou Mother! fount of love! Touch my spirit from above, make my heart with thine accord: Make me feel as thou hast felt; make my soul to glow and melt with the love of Christ my Lord. Holy Mother! pierce me through, in my heart each wound renew of my Savior crucified: Let me share with thee His pain, who for all my sins was slain, who for me in torments died. Let me mingle tears with thee, mourning Him who mourned for me, all the days that I may live: By the Cross with thee to stay, there with thee to weep and pray, is all I ask of thee to give. Virgin of all virgins blest!, Listen to my fond request: let me share thy grief divine; Let me, to my latest breath, in my body bear the death of that dying Son of thine. Wounded with His every wound, steep my soul till it hath swooned, in His very Blood away; Be to me, O Virgin, nigh, lest in flames I burn and die, in His awful Judgment Day. Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence, be Thy Mother my defense, be Thy Cross my victory; While my body here decays, may my soul Thy goodness praise, Safe in Paradise with Thee. – Translation by Edward Caswall, Lyra Catholica (1849)
Composers who have written settings of the "Stabat Mater" include:
Most of the settings are in Latin, but Karol Szymanowski's and Paul Bebenek's are in Polish, although Szymanowski's may also be sung in Latin. George Oldroyd's setting is in Latin but includes an English translation for Anglican/Episcopalian use.