“Oh My Son!”: The Musical Origins and Function of King David’s Lamentation

  • PDF: https://www.jstor.org/stable/41225269

 

Introduction

In his 1981 article “Prince Henry as Absalom in David’s Lamentations” Irving Godt examined a group of seventeenth-century English settings based on King David’s laments for his son Absalom and his friend Jonathan.1 On the basis of the information available to him, Godt was unable to establish whether there was any historical precedent for these works and treated them as an isolated phenomenon exclusive to England. My recent research demonstrates that there was a group of musical works based on the same topic that predated the English settings. The repertoire of works based on Davidic laments, which began in the ninth century and continues today, spread across temporal, geographic, and religious boundaries in Europe during the sixteenth century.2 For the scope of this article, the examples are limited exclusively to settings of David’s lament for Absalom; however, there were also musical works from the sixteenth century based on David’s lament for Jonathan, and those could also be used to illustrate the points offered in this article. Scholars have generally viewed well-known settings within this repertoire as commemorative of a specific person’s death for whom the setting was composed. Based on my investigation of the text variants used by sixteenth-century composers, I argue that this sacred Latin text transcended its original biblical roots, serving a variety of possible functions.


Sources of Texts

Biblical Texts

The texts of David’s lamentation for Absalom ultimately derive from two biblical passages in the Second Book of Samuel.

Absalom Text #1: 2 Samuel 18:33

Latin Vulgate Douay-Rheims Translation

Contristatus itaque rex ascendit cenaculum portae et
flevit et sic loquebatur vadens:
fili mi Absalom fili mi Absalom
quis mihi tribuat ut ego moriar pro te
Absalom fili mi fili mi.3

The king therefore being much moved, went up to
the high chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went he spoke in this manner:
My son Absalom, Absalom my son:
would to God that I might die for thee, Absalom
my son, my son Absalom

 


Absalom Text #2: 2 Samuel 19:4

 

Latin Vulgate Douay-Rheims Translation

porro rex operuit caput suum, et clamabat voce magna:
fili mi Absalon fili mi fili mi.

And the king covered his head, and cried with a loud voice:
O my son Absalom, O Absalom my son, O my son.

 

 


Antiphon Text

The earliest known musical setting of David’s lament, Rex autem David, is found in European medieval antiphonals.4 A list of the known manuscript sources for the antiphon is included in Table 1. The function of this musical setting was liturgical, occurring among the readings of the Old Testament histories that occupy the summer months in the Catholic liturgical year. In addition to providing music, the plainchant antiphon also presents a third text of David’s lament for Absalom.

Absalom Text #3: Rex autem David

Rex autem David cooperto capite
incedens lugebat filium dicens:
Absalon, fili mi, fili mi Absalon,
quis michi det ut ego moriar pro te, fili mi Absalon.

But King David, walking with covered head,
mourned for his son, saying:
Absalon, my son, my son Absalon.
Would it had been given to me that I had died for thee, my son, Absalon.5


The antiphon text appears to be derived from both biblical accounts, because it contains information that is specific to each. For example, the first line of the antiphon text is based on 2 Samuel 19:4, which notes that David covered his head, and the last line of the antiphon text, “would it had been given to me that I had died for thee,” is based on the text from 2 Samuel 18:33.

Table 1: Sources of Rex autem David antiphon6

Bamberg Antiphoner Bamberg, Staatliche Bibliothek, Cod. lit. 23

Compiegne Antiphoner

Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, MS lat. 17436

Antipyoner of Saint-Denis

Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, MS 17296

Ivrea Antiphoner

Ivrea, Chapter Library, MS 106

Antiphoner of Saint-Maur-les-Fosses

Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, MS lat. 12584

Antiphoner of Hartker

Saint-Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek MSS 390 & 391

Monza Antiphoner

Monaza, Chapter Library, Cod. c. 12.75

Rheinau Antiphoner

Zurich, Zentrabibliothek, MS s.n., formerly Rheinau, Abbey Library MS 28

Antiphoner of Silos

London, British Library, MS Add. 30850

Verona Antiphoner

Verona, Chapter Library, Cod. XCVIII

Breviary

Rouen, Bibliogheque Municipale, MS 205 (Y46)

Antiphonaire monastique

Lucques, Chapter Library, Cod. 601

Antiphonaire monastique

Worchester, Cathedral Library, Cod. F. 160

Antiphonale Sarisburiense

Cambridge, University Library, MS Mm 2 G

 

Musical Settings Based On Antiphon Texts

This survey of Renaissance settings begins with six motets that share the Rex autem David antiphon text. The timeline in Table 2 demonstrates that composers wrote polyphonic settings of the antiphon text throughout the course of the sixteenth century. The motets were written by Catholic composers. However, the anonymous 1506 setting of Rex autem David also appears in the Symphoniae jucundae, a Protestant anthology for home devotional use compiled by Georg Rhau in 1538 in Wittenberg. These six polyphonic motets would not have been used as a substitute for the liturgical plainchant antiphon, Rex autem David. However, since they all use the antiphon text, it is likely that the motets may have served some para-liturgical function. Although these settings all use the text from the antiphon, none of the composers utilized the antiphon melody as a cantus firmus.

Table 2: Sixteenth-Century Motets Based on Rex autem David Antiphon Text

Date Title Composer Genre Source(s)
c.1506 Rex autem David7 Anonymous 4 vv. motet

Florence, MS Panciatichi 27
Basel, Universität, MS FX 5-9
Regensburg, Proske, MS AR 940/41
Regensburg, Ebenda MS B 220-222
München, Universität MS 326
Symphoniae Jucundae
St Gall, Stiftsbibliothek, MS 463

 1521

Rex autem David8

Mathieu Gascogne
(fl. 1517-1518)

4 vv. motet  Königsberg MS 1740
Padua A 17
Regensburg, Proske, MS AR 940/41
RISM 1521.5, Venice
RISM 1521.6, Rome
RISM 1539.11, Lyon
RISM 1535. 3, Paris 
 1549 Rex autem David9 
     Pt. 1: Rex autem David
     Pt. 2: Planxit autem
Jacobus Clemens non Papa
(b. c1510-15, d. 1555/6)


4 vv. motet  Aachen, Domarchiv, Magnon-Codex
Regensburg, Proske, AR 891
RISM 1564.1, Nürnberg 

 before 1571/2

Rex autem David10

    

Bernardo de Ribera
(b. c1510-q15, d. 1555/6)

5 vv. motet E-Tc 6, Toledo
 pub. 1574

Rex autem David11
     Pt. 1: Rex autem David
     Pt. 2: Planxit autem

Jean de Castro
(b. 15407?, d. 1600?) 

3 vv. motet  Triciniorum sacrorum, liber units 
 pub. 1596  Rex autem David12

Giovanni de Macque
(b. 1548-50, d. 1614)

6 vv. motet
incomplete—only five parts survive

Motectorum, 5, 6, 8vv, liber primus 

In addition to spanning much of the sixteenth century, these musical settings extended through several Catholic countries in mainland Europe. The composers of the Rex autem David motets held positions in Spain, France, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The earliest surviving polyphonic motet based on the antiphon text is an anonymous setting found in the Florentine source Panciatichi MS 27, which Gioia Filocamo dates around 1506.13 The 1521 setting of Rex autem David was composed by Mathieu Gascogne, who worked the Royal Chapel of François I in France.14 Gascogne’s motet was published by Andrea Antico in Rome and can also be found in sources from Königsberg, Padua, Regensburg, Venice, Lyon, and Paris. The next composer to set this text was Jacobus Clemens non Papa, who worked at the cathedral in Bruges, and his motet appears in manuscripts from Aachen, Regensburg, and Nürnberg.15 Bernardino de Ribera spent most of his career at the cathedral in Toledo, which is also the location of the manuscript that contains his motet.16 Jean de Castro worked in Antwerp, Düsseldorf, Cologne, and several unnamed cities in France.17 His motet was published in 1574 in a collection of his sacred works, titled Triciniorum sacrorum liber unus. Finally, Giovanni de Macque worked at churches in Rome and Naples, and his motet was included in the Motectorum, liber primus, which was published in Rome in 1596.18 The 1506 Rex autem David setting contained in the Symphoniae jucundae provides a link outside of the Catholic repertoire and suggests a Protestant affinity for this Latin text. 

Musical Settings With Multiple Antiphon Text

Two motets combine the Rex autem David text with Doleo super te, an antiphon text based on King David’s lament for this friend Jonathan, providing a clear musical link between these two similar lament texts. Clemens non Papa’s setting of Rex autem David consists of laments for both Absalom and Jonathan arranged in two separate parts. The union of David’s lamentations was previously found in an anonymous fourteenth-century polytextual motet Doleo super te/Absalon fili mi. Though Clemens non Papa was probably not aware of any medieval precedent, for some reason he chose to connect both of these texts in his motet. Jean de Castro also combined them in his three-voice motet, Rex autem David. Both composers used the same text for the secunda pars of their motets.

Text and Translation of Planxit autem David

Planxit autem David super Jonathan dicens:
Doleo super te, frater mi Jonatha,
amabilis valde super amorem mulierum.
Sicut mater unicum amat filium suum, ita ego te diligebam.
Incliti Israel flete.

Thus David mourned over Jonathan, saying:
I grieve for you, my brother Jonathan;
with a love greater than the love of women,
Like a mother loves her only son, I delighted in you.
Weep for the glory of Israel.19

The first line of the text, “Planxit autem David,” and the last line, “Incliti Israel flete” are both non-liturgical but derive from the biblical account of David’s lament for Jonathan (found in 2 Samuel 1:17 & 19). The Doleo super te text is both a liturgical antiphon text and a biblical scripture (2 Samuel 1:26). These two motets by Clemens non Papa and Castro not only join the Absalom and Jonathan laments, but they also combine two different liturgical antiphon texts with biblical texts (2 Samuel 1:17&19).

 

Musical Settings Utilizing Biblical Texts

In addition to the six polyphonic motets utilizing the Rex autem David antiphon text, there are also seven musical settings that use other types of texts, notably biblical texts and poetic adaptations based on the scriptural account of David’s lament. Table 3 provides a timeline of the musical settings that are based on biblical texts or poetic adaptations. Since these polyphonic settings do not use texts from monophonic liturgical music, there are two possibilities for their function. They may have been used in church services in addition to the liturgical readings from the second book of Samuel, which occurred at Matins on the Saturday before the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost.20 It is also possible that these settings could have been used for non-liturgical purposes.

Table 3: Other Sixteenth-Century Musical Settings Based on David’s Lament for Absalom

 

Date Title Composer Genre Source(s)
before c1513 Absalon, fili mi21

Josquin des Prez?
(b. 1450/55, d. 1521)

OR Pierre de la Rue?
(b. 1452, d. 1518)

4 vv. motet

London, Brit. Lib., MS Royal 8 G VII
RISM 1540.7, Augsburg
RISM 1559.2, Nürnberg

pub. 1538

Absalon, fili mi22

Anonymous

4 vv. motet  Symphoniae Jucundae
pub. 1546 Triste estaba el rey David23 Alonso Mudarra
(b. 1510, d. 1580)

solo voice and vihuela Tres libros de musica en cifras para vihuela

1559

Doleo super te Absalon24

Benedictus Appenzeller
(b. 1480-88, d. after 1558)

4 vv. motet RISM 1559.2, Nürnberg
RISM 1540.7, Augsburg25
pub. 1564

Lugebat David Absalon26
     Pt. 1: Lugebat David Absalon
     Pt. 2: Porro rex operuit

Josquin des Prez?

OR Nicholas Gombert?
(b. 1495, d. 1560)

8 vv. motet  RISM 1564.1, Nürnberg
London, Brit. Lib., Royal Appendix 49-54
RISM 1552.35
Verona, Accademia Filarmonica, MS 218
c1580 Cum audisset David rex27

Rodrigo de Ceballos
(b. 1525/50, d. 1581)

4 vv. motet

Granada. Capilla Real, MS 3
Toledo, Cath. Lib., MS Mus B 7

pub. 1587 Planxit David rex Absalon28

Jacobus Gallus
(b. 1550, d. 1591)

8 vv. motet 

Opus musicum III

 

The well-known motet Absalon, fili mi (c. 1513), which was attributed in one source to Josquin des Prez and has been ascribed by modern scholars to Pierre de la Rue, conflates portions from three different biblical texts.29

Text and Transaltion of Absalon, fili mi

Absalon, fili mi, fili mi, Absalon, 
quis det ut moriar pro te, fili mi Absalon, 
Non vivam ultra, 
sed descendam infernum plorans.
Absalon, my son, my son, Absalon,
would that I could die for you, my son, Absalon,
Let me live no longer,
but descend into hell, weeping.30

 

 

 


The initial text of the motet is a portion of David’s lament taken from 2 Samuel 18:33.

contristatus itaque rex ascendit cenaculum portae et flevit et sic loquebatur vadens: fili mi Absalom fili mi Absalom quis mihi tribuat ut ego moriar pro te Absalom fili mi fili mi31

The king therefore being much moved, went up to the high chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went he spoke in this manner: My son Absalom, Absalom my son: would to God that I might die for thee, Absalom my son, my son Absalom.32


Next, the composer adds the text “non vivam ultra” (“let me live no longer”), taken from Job’s lament in Job 7:16.

desperavi nequaquam ultra iam vivam
parce mihi nihil enim sunt dies mei

I have done with hope, I shall now live no longer:
spare me, for my days are nothing.


Finally, the phrase “sed descendam infernum plorans” (“but descend into hell, weeping”), is from Jacob’s lament for his son Joseph in Genesis 37:35.

congregatis autem cunctis liberis eius ut lenirent dolorem patris noluit consolationem recipere et ait descendam ad filium meum lugens in infernum et illo perseverante in fletu

And all his children being gathered together to comfort their father in his sorrow,
he would not receive comfort, but said: I will go down to my son into hell, mourning and whilst he continued weeping.


The three different biblical accounts all share a common theme of fathers lamenting. The excerpts from Job and Genesis that have been appended to the Absalom text intensify the human drama of David’s lament for his son.

The text of Doleo super te Absalon (1559) by Benedictus Appenzeller represents an amalgamation of the Absalom and Jonathan texts, again reinforcing a musical connection between David’s two similar laments. However, this piece also calls attention to the individual character of David’s two laments.

Text and Translation of Doleo super te Absalon

Doleo super te, Absalon, fili mi,
amabilis super amorem mulierum.
Sicut mater unicum amat filium, ita te diligebam

I grieve for you, Absalon, my son,
with a love greater than the love of women.
Like a mother loves her only son, I delighted in you.33

The composer used the Doleo super te text (2 Samuel 1:26) as a starting point, inserting “Absalon, fili mi” in place of “frater mi Jonatha.” Since the name is changed, David is now lamenting for his son Absalom. The lines of text that follow could possibly work as part of a father’s lament for his son. However, the phrase “amabilis super amorem mulierum” (“with a love greater than the love of women”) is a distinctive and integral part of David’s expression of love for his best friend in his lament for Jonathan. Thus, even though the name has been changed in the first line from Jonathan to Absalom, the remaining text certainly carries the character of its original context as a lament for his best friend.

Lugebat David Absalon (pub. 1564), attributed to Josquin and Gombert, unites a poetic description of David’s lament with both biblical texts and the antiphon text of David’s lament for Absalom.

Text and Translation of Lugebat David Absalon

Prima Pars: [source] First Part:
1. Lugebat David Absalon, pius pater filium, tristis senex puerum: [poetic description] 1. David mourned for Absalom, the loving father for his son, the old man for a youth:
2. “Heu me, fili mi Absalon, heu me, fili mi Absalon,

2. “Alas, my son Absalom, Alas my son Absalom,
3. quis mihi det ut ego pro te moriar, [2 Samuel 18:33] 3. would that I could die for you,
4. O fili mi, fili mi Absalon?

4. O my son, my son, Absalom?
5. Rex autem David filium dixit cooperto flebat capite: [antiphon text] 5. King David wept for his son with covered head,
6. “Quis mihi det ut ego moriar pro te, O fili mi?” 6. “Would that I could die for you, o my son!”
 
Secunda Pars:  Second Part:
7. Porro Rex operuit caput suum, et clamabat voce magna: [2 Samuel 19:4]  7. Later, the king covered his head and cried with a loud voice:
8. “O fili mi Absalon.”  8. “O my son Absalom.”34

 


The prima pars begins with a poetic introduction in lines 1 & 2, describing David’s lament for his son. This is followed in lines 3 and 4 by a text based on 2 Samuel 18:33 and then the complete Rex autem David antiphon text in lines 5 and 6. Finally, the text for the secunda pars in lines 7 and 8 is taken exactly from 2 Samuel 19:4.


Poetic Adaptions

Two Latin motets and one Spanish song utilize poetic adaptations of the story of David’s lament. The entire text of Cum audisset autem David rex (c 1580), by Spanish composer Rodrigo de Ceballos, is a poetic interpretation of David’s lament.

Text and Translation of Cum audisset autem David rex

Cum audisset autem David rex, filium occissum, valde contristatus est;
Et cooperto capite, lacrimas fundebat et gemebat dicens:
“Absalom, fili mi, quis te perdit et occidit?”

However, when David the King had heard that his son was slain, he was very moved;
And covering his head, he poured forth tears and groaned, saying:
“Absalom, my son, why are you lost/destroyed and slain?”35

 

This poetic rendering of David’s lament retains much of the original literary character of the scriptural account. For example, the text contains certain words specific to the biblical source and antiphon text; the term “contristatus” is only found in 2 Samuel 18:33, and the phrase “cooperto capite” comes from the Rex autem David antiphon text.

The Slovenian composer Jacobus Gallus composed a motet for double choir titled Planxit David Rex Absalon that uses a poetic rendering of the Absalom text. This work was included in Gallus’s collection of motets for the liturgical year titled Opus musicum, in the section for the season after Pentecost and prior to advent, suggesting a liturgical function.

Text and Translation of Planxit David rex Absalon

Prima pars:  First part:

Planxit David rex Absalon natum suum: 
O nate mi, cur non licet pro te mori? 
Fili parentum nobilis sanguis, iaces, 
spes alta regni, 
cura divorum potens! 
Eheu, dolor. 

King David mourned for his son Absalon:
O my child, why could I not die for you?
Son of parents of noble blood, you sleep,
the high hope of the kingdom,
the powerful concern of the angels!
Alas, grief.

Secunda pars: Second part:

Diadema, sceptrum, regium nomen vale;
Natus meorum ille dux fortis iacet. 
Fili, fili, fili quid istud?
Corde confosso impie?
O Absalon, dilecte mi fili, vale.
Eheu dolor.

Diadem, scepter, royal name, farewell;
My son, that strong leader of my [people], sleeps.
O son, what [is] that?
With a pierced heart, impious?
O Absalon, my beloved son, farewell.
Alas, grief.36


The song Triste estava el rey David by Alonso Mudarra was published in 1546 as a set of three romances. The other songs in this set were based on biblical texts, one being David’s lament for Jonathan from Second Samuel, the other, the story of Jesus quieting the tempest in Matthew 8: 23-27. Mudarra’s setting of the Absalom text also presents a completely poetic interpretation of David’s lament for Absalom.

Text and Translation of Triste estava el Rey David37

 

Triste estava el rey David; 
Triste y con gran passión, 
Quando le vinieron nuevas 
De la muerte de Absalom. 
Palabras tristes dezía 
Salidas del coraçón. 

King David was sad;
Sad and with great passion.
When the news was brought to him
Of the death of Absalom.
The sad words he uttered
Came forth from his heart.

Ellos mismos fueron causa
De tu muerte y mi passión. 
No te quisiera ver muerto,
Sino vivo en mi prisión,
Que aunque me eras desobediente
Yo te otorgara perdón.
Fili mi.
They themselves were the cause
Of your death and my passion;
I would not like to see you dead.
But alive in my prison,
Even though you disobeyed me,
I granted you forgiveness.
My son.


This song differs from the other musical settings in two ways—the use of a vernacular text and a secular genre. This is the first musical setting of David’s lament written in a vernacular language. However, during the later sixteenth century, Spanish composers such as Bernardino de Ribera and Rodrigo de Ceballos continued to follow the trend of setting the Latin texts. The next vernacular settings of David’s lamentations are the early seventeenth-century British anthems utilizing the text When David Heard. Also, this Spanish song is not a polyphonic motet, but rather is scored for solo voice and vihuela, which along with the vernacular language connotes a more secular function for the piece.

 

Puposes For The Non-Liturgical Settings

Since the polyphonic settings based on biblical and poetic texts could have been composed for non-liturgical purposes, scholars have speculated—based on circumstantial evidence – as to the reason why certain well-known settings were composed. For example, Jeremy Noble has posited that Absalon fili mi was written either by La Rue for the death of Philip the Fair in 1506 or by Josquin for the death of Giovanni Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI, in 1497.38 Both of these events fit the biographical information known about the respective composers and also the timeline for the work, since we know that it was copied in 1513. However, these suggestions are problematic, because there is no actual evidence that links this musical work (or any of the other sixteenth-century settings) to the death of a prominent historical figure’s son. While this is certainly one option, the presence of such a variety of texts and different functions among the fourteen musical works suggests that there could also be other reasons why these pieces were composed. For example, these compositions could have been written to lament the death of any patron’s son or they may not have been written to commemorate a specific death at all. A more pragmatic explanation is also probable; a sixteenth-century composer could have come across the passages about David’s lamentation while reading in the second book of Samuel and simply chosen to set that text to music. Based on Zarlino’s writings in Le istitutione harmoniche, a modern perception of Renaissance musical aesthetics includes the idea that the music was influenced by the text and should express the meaning of the words. Therefore, in setting the text a Renaissance composer would have chosen music that would underscore the meaning of David’s affective lament.

 

Conclusion

Throughout the sixteenth century composers across Europe, who may not have known one another’s works, chose to set a variety of texts depicting the same biblical story, David’s lament for Absalom, thus establishing a musical repertoire. The sources for these motet texts ranged from antiphon texts, suggesting a potential para-liturgical function, to biblical scriptures and poetic interpretations, suggesting either a possible sacred connection or some secular purpose for the composition of the pieces. Since many different Renaissance composers were using the Absalom text in their compositions, it naturally raises questions as to why they did so. While I acknowledge that some of these settings may have been written to commemorate the death of someone’s son, as previous scholars have suggested, the different texts used by composers suggest a variety of possible functions for these musical works within liturgical, non-liturgical, and secular contexts. Therefore, I would argue that it is not necessary to contrive connections between any given piece in this repertoire and a specific historical event in order to understand how the Absalom settings may have functioned in Renaissance society. Instead, as the texts and music of these works demonstrate, there are a variety of possibilities that may have brought them into existence.


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Skulj, Edo, ed. Monumenta Artis Musicae Sloveniae. Vol. 13, Opus Musicum III/2: In dedicatione templi et a dominica post Pentecosten usque ad adventum Domini. Ljubljana: Solvenska akademija znanosti in umetnosti, 1988.

Smijers, A., ed. Werken Van Josquin Des Prés. Vol. 55, Supplement. Amsterdam: Vereniging Voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis, 1969.

Snow, Robert J., ed. The Extant Music of Rodrigo de Ceballos and its Sources. Detroit: Information Coordinators, 1980.

Spilker, John D. “The Context and Tradition of King David’s Lamentations.” Master’s Thesis, Florida State University, 2006. http://etd.lib.fsu.edu/theses/available/etd-06292006-190728/ (accessed February 17, 2008).

Stevenson, Robert. “Bernardino de Ribera.” In Grove Music Online. Edited by Laura Macy. http://www.grovemusic.com (accessed January 22, 2006).

Swing, Peter Gram. “Mathieu Gascogne.” In Grove Music Online. Edited by Laura Macy. http://www.grovemusic.com (accessed January 22, 2006).

Weber, Robert, ed. Biblia Sacra Iuxta Vulgatem versionem. Stuttgart: Württembergische Bibelanstalt, 1969.

 


APPENDIX: TIMELINE OF DAVID’S LAMENTATIONS—9th-21st CENTURIES


Table A.1: Musical Settings from Ninth-Sixteenth centuries

Date Title Composer Genre Source(s)
9th century39 Rex autem David Anonymous

plainchant antiphon

Paris, Bibl. Nat., MS lat. 17436 (earliest source)

11th century Montes Gelboe nec ros Anonymous

plainchant antiphon

Ivrea, Chapter Lib., MS 106
Monza, Chapter Lib., Cod. c. 12.75 (earliest sources)
11th century Saul et Jonathas amabiles Anonymous

plainchant antiphon

Ivrea, Chapter Lib., MS 106
Monza, Chapter Lib., Cod. c. 12.75 (earliest sources)
11th century Doleo super te Anonymous

plainchant antiphon

Ivrea, Chapter Lib., MS 106
Monza, Chapter Lib., Cod. c. 12.75 (earliest sources)
after c1130 Planctus David super Saul et Ionatha;
  Pt. I: Dolorum solatium
  Pt. II: Amalech involuit
  Pt. III: Saul regum fortissime
  
Pt. IV: Ve, ve, tibi madida
  Pt. V: Heu cur consilio
  Pt. VI: Do quietem fidibus
Peter Abelard
(b. 1079, d. 1142)

monophonic planctus

Vatican City, Bib. Apost., Cod. Regin lat 288
Oxford, Univ. Lib., MS Bodl. 79
Paris, Bib. Nat., MS NAL 3126
14th century Doleo super te/ Absalon fili mi Anonymous

Polytextual motet

Cambridge, Gonville and Caius College, MS 512/543
before 1492? Triste esta el rey David Anonymous

Traditional Sephardic song

?

pub. 1506

Rex autem David, Anonymous 4 vv. motet Florence, MS Panciatichi 27
Basel, Universität, MS FX 5-9
Regensburg, Proske, MA AR 940-41
Regensburg, Ebenda MS B220-222
München, Universität MS 36
Symphoniae Jucundae
before c1513 Absalom, fili mi

Josquin des Prez?
(b. 1450/55, d. 1521)

OR Pierre de la Rue?
(b. 1452, d.1518)

4 vv. motet  

London, Brit. Lib., MS Royal 8 G VII
RISM 1540 7, Augsburg
RISM 1559.2, Nurnberg 

before c1513

Consideraa Israel;
  Pt. 1: Considera Israel
  Pt. 2: Sagitta Jonathae
  Pt. 3: Filiae Israel
  Pt. 4: Doleo super

Pierre de la Rue
(b. 1452, d. 1518) 

4 vv. motet 

Florence, Bib. Natl., MS II.I.232
Vatican City, Bib Apost., MS Palatini Latini 1976-79
Brussels, Bibl. Royal, MS 228
London, British Library, MS Royal 8 G VII 

before 1521 Planxit autem David;
  Pt. 1: Planxit autem David
  Pt. 2: Montes Gelboe
  Pt. 3: Sagitta Jonathae
  Pt. 4: Doleo super te
Josquin des Prez
(b. 1450/55, d. 1521) 
4 vv. motet Florence, Bib. Natl., MS II.I.232
1521  Rex autem David Mathieu Gascogne
(fl. 1517-1518)
4 vv. motet

Königsberg MS 1740
Padua A 17
Regensburg, Proske, MS AR 940/41
RISM 1521.5, Venice
RISM 1521.6, Rome
RISM 1539.11, Lyon
RISM 1535.3 Paris

1527 Klingender Ton Hans Sachs
(1494-1576)
monophonic Meisterton Göttingen, Niedersächsischen Staats- und Universitätsbib., 4 Mus. V, 3050
pub. 1538 Absalon, fili mi Anonymous 4 vv. motet Symphoniae Juncundae
pub. 1546 Triste estaba el rey David Alonso Mudarra
(b. 1510, d. 1580)
solo voice and vihuela Tres libros de musica en cifras para vihuela
pub. 1546 Israel, mira tua montes Alonso Mudarra
(b. 1510, d. 1580)
solo voice and vihuela Tres libros de musica en cifras para vihuela
1549 Rex autem David;
  Pt. 1: Rex autem David
  Pt. 2: Planxit autem

Jacobus Clemns non Papa
(b. c1510-15, d.1555/6) 

4 vv. motet

Aachen, Domarchiv, Magnon-Codex
Regensburg, Proske, AR 891
RISM 1564.1, Nurnberg 

before 1553 Doleo super te Matheo Flecha
(b. 1481?, d.1553?)
motet  lost
before 1571 Rex autem David Bernardino de Ribera
(b. 1520, d. 1571/2)
5 vv. motet Toledo, Cath. Lib., MS Mus 6
pub. 1574 Rex autem David;
  Pt. 1: Rex autem David
  Pt. 2: Planxit autem
Jean de Castro
(b. 1540?, d. 1600?) 
3 vv. motet Triciniorum sacrorum, liber unus
c1580 Cum audisset David rex Rodrigo de Ceballos
(b. 1525/50, d. 1581)
4 vv. motet Granada, Capilla Real, MS 3
Toledo, Cath.Lib., MS Mus B 7
pub. 1587 Planxit David rex Absalon Jacobus Gallus
(b. 1550, d. 1591)
8 vv. motet Opus musicum III
pub. 1596 Rex autem David Giovanni de Macque
(b. 1548-50, d. 1614)
6 vv. motet
incomplete—only five parts survive 
Motectorum, 5, 6, 8vv, liber primus 

 

 Table A.2: Seventeenth-century English settings40

 

Date Title Composer Genre Source(s)
before 1616 When David Heard;
  Pt. 1: When David Heard
  Pt. 2: O My Son
Thomas Weelkes
(b. c1576, d. 1623)
6 vv. anthem London, Brit. Lib., MS 29366-68
London, Brit. Lib., MS 29372-77
London, Brit. Lib., MS 29427
Oxford, Bodleian, MS 807-11
Oxford, Bodleian, MS 1162-7
Oxford, Bodleian, MS 389
Oxford, Christ Church, 56-60
NY pub. Lib., Drexel MS 4302
Washington D.C, Folger Lib., MS V.a.412
San Marino, CA, Huntington Lib. MS HM 461
before 1616 O Jonathan Thomas Weelkes
(b. c1576, d. 1623)
6 vv. anthem London, Brit. Lib., MS 29366-68
London, Brit. Lib., MS 29372-77
London, Brit. Lib., MS 29427
San Marino, CA, Huntington Lib., MS EL 25 A 46-51
Oxford, Bodleian, MS 1162-67
Washington D.C., Folger Lib., MS V.a.412
before 1616 And the King Was Moved Richard Dering
(b. c1580, d. 1630)
5 vv. anthem London, Brit. Lib., MS 29372-77
London, Brit. Lib., MS 29427
York, Minster, MS M 29
Brussels MS II.4109
Washington D.C, Folger Lib., MS V.a.412
before 1616 When David Heard that Absalom John Milton, Sr.
(b. c1563, d. 1647)
5 vv. anthem London, Brit. Lib., MS 29372-77
London, Brit. Lib., MS 29427
before 1616 O woe is me for thee John Milton, Sr.
(b. c1563, d. 1647)
5 vv. anthem London, Brit. Lib., MS 29372-77
London, Brit. Lib., MS 29427
before 1616 When David Heard that Absalom Robert Ramsey
(d. 1644)
6 vv. anthem London, Brit. Lib., MS 29427
Oxford, Bodleian MS 1162-7
before 1616 O my Son Absalom;
  Pt. 1: O my son Absalom
  Pt. 2: Saul and Jonathan
Giles Farnaby
(b. c1563, d. 1640)
5 vv. anthem;
incomplete—alto part only
London, Brit. Lib., MS 29427
before 1616 When David Heard that Absalom William Bearsley 5 vv. anthem;
incomplete—no quintus
London, Brit. Lib., MS 29427
London, Brit., Lib. MS 29366-8
Oxford, Bodleian, MS f. 20-24
pub. 1617 Contristatus est Rex David Richard Dering
(b. c1580, d. 1630)
5 vv. motet Oxford, Christ Church, MS 881-86, Cantiones Sacrae
pub. 1618 When David Heard that Absalom Michael East
(b. c1580, d. 1648)
6 vv. anthem Fourth Set of Bookes
c1618, pub. 1622 When David Heard that Absalom Thomas Tomkins
(b. 1572, d. 1656)
5 vv. anthem London Brit. Lib., MS 29372-77
NY Pub Lib., Drexel MS 4180-85
Songs of 3. 4. 5. & 6. Parts
Musica Deo sacra
c1620  O my son Absolon  Anon. 321;
also attributed to
Weelkes (doubtful)
4 vv. anthem  London, Brit. Lib., R.M. 23.1.4
Oxford, Bodleian, MS f. 17-19
Washington D.C, Folger, MS V.a.412
c1622  When David Heard “Mr. Smith”
Elias Smith?
5 vv. anthem  New York Public Lib., Drexel MS 4180-855
early 17th century When David Heard that Jonathan William Bearsley 5 vv. anthem; incomplete London, Brit. Lib., MS 29366-68
before 1625 O Jonathan, how wert thou slain Anon. 276 anthem;
incomplete—tenor part only
Washington D.C., Folger Lib., MS V.a.412
before 1641 O Jonathan, thou wast slain
  Pt 1: O Jonathan thou wert slain
  Pt. 2: How are the mighty fallen
Anon. 167  anthem, incomplete Litchfield, Cathedral Lub., manuscript additions in John Barnard, The First Book of Selected Church Musick 
before 1641 O Jonathan, thou wast slain
  Pt. 1: O Jonathan, thou wast slain
  Pt. 2: How are the Mighty Fallen
  Pt. 3: Ye daughters of Israel
Anon. 277  anthem, incomplete  Litchfield, Cathedral Lib., additions to Barnard partbooks 
before 1644 How are the Mighty Fall’n  Robert Ramsey
(d. 1644)
6 vv. anthem Glasgow, Euing Lib. MS R.d.91
pub. 1652 O Absolon, my Son  Henry Lawes
(b. 1596, d. 1662)
3 vv. canon  Catch that Catch Can, London: John Hilton, 1652. 
c1650s  When David heard that Absalom Anon. 410 anthem;
incomplete—bass part only
San Marino, CA, Huntington, Lib. MS HM 461
pub. 1668 Then David Mourned Thomas Tomkins
(b. 1572, d. 1656)

5 vv. anthem  Musica Deo sacra Deo, London, 1668 
c. 1670s  How Are the Mighty Fallen Michael Wise
(b. 1647, d. 1687)
3 vv. anthem London, Brit. Lib., MS 17784
Oxford, Christ Church MS 1246
c. 1670-85 When David Heard Anon. 411 3 vv. anthem London, Brit. Lib., MS 33235
Oxford, Christ Church MS623-25
c. 1690 Thy Beauty, O Israel Henry Aldrich
(b. 1648, d. 1710)
arrangement of Wise’s anthem;
4 vv. & continuo
Oxford, Christ Church, MSS Mus. 12, 16, & 614
late 1600s O Absalom, my son Anon. 253 6 vv. anthem; incomplete London, Brit. Lib., manuscript insertions in John Barnard, The First Book of Selected Church Musick
late 1600’s The Beauty of Israel is slain John Walter
(b. c1660, d. 1708)
anthem London, Brit. Lib. MS 22100;
the piece is only mentioned in index, no music.




Table A.3: Musical Settings, 17th-21st centuries

 

Date Title Composer Genre/Instrumentation Source(s)/Comments
pub.1602 “Fili mi, Absalon” Lodovico Viadana
(b. 1560, d. 1627)
2 mezzo-sopranos, baritone, & organ Cento Concerti Ecclesiastici
pub. 1602 “Doleo Super te” Lodovico Viadana
(b. 1560, d. 1627)
2 basses & organ Cento Concerti Ecclesiastici
1629 “Fili mi, Absalon” Schütz, Heinrich
(b. 1585, d. 1672)
Bass, 4 trombones, continuo Symphoniae Sacrae
pub. 1655 Lagrime di Davide sparse nel miserere Biagio Marini
(b. 1594, d. 1663)
2-4 vv, 2 vlns, organ ?
before 1674 Historia Davidis et Jonathae Giacomo Carissimi (?)
(b. 1605, d. 1674
SSATB, 2 vlns, & basso continuo Paris, Natl. Lib., MSS Vm1 1473 (Brossard)
1674 Assalone punito Pietro Andrea Ziani
(b. 1616, d. 1684)
oratorio Vienna, Natl. Lib.
before 1678 Assalone Paolo Petti
(d. 1678)
oratorio; 5 vv. & instr. Paris, Conservatory Lib.
1681 Doleo super te Henry Du Mont
(b. 1610, d. 1684)
petit motet; Ct, T, B, continuo Motets a II. III. et IV. parties
early 1680’s Mors Saulis et Jonathae Marc-Antoine Charpentier
(b. 1643, d. 1704)
oratorio Paris, Natl. Lib., MS Rés Vm 259, iv
1686 Absalone (L’Assalone) Giovanni Paolo Colonna
(b. 1637, d. 1695)
oratorio Vienna, Natl. Lib.
Paris, Conservatory Lib.
1688 David et Jonathas Marc-Antoine Charpentier
(b. 1643, d. 1704)
tragédie mise en musique;
(incomplete)
Paris, Natl. Lib., MS Rés F924
before c. 1690 Geistliche Konzerte aus dem Evangelien-Jahrgang:
  57. “Mein Sohn, woll’t Gott, ich müßte vor
         dir sterben”
Augustin Pfleger
(b. c1635, d. c1690)
2 sopranos, 1 bass,
3 violas, & continuo
Universitätsbibliothek Upsala
1691 L’Absalone ribello Flavio Lanciani
(b. 1661, d. 1706)
oratorio lost
before 1700? La cetra piangente de Davide nella morte de Gionata Giuseppe Pacieri
(d. 1700 or later)
oratorio Naples, Bib. Oratoriana dei Filippini
1704 Assalon punito Antonio Veracini
(b. 1659-1733)
oratorio ?
1705 La superbia punita in Absalone Giuseppe Valentini
(b. 1681, d. 1753)
drama sacro lost
1715 La ribellione d’Assalonne Antonio Caldara
(b. 1671, d. 1736)
oratorio Münster, Santini Bib.
1720 Assalonne Antonio Caldara
(b. 1671, d. 1736)
oratorio Vienna, Natl. Lib., MS HS 17058
1721 Davide Francesco Pistocchi
(b. 1659, d. 1726)
oratorio lost
1724 David Francesco Conti
(b. 1681/2, d. 1732)
oratorio Vienna, Natl. Lib.
1726 Assalone nemico del padre amante Giuseppe Porsile
(b. 1680, d. 1750)
oratorio Vienna, Natl. Lib.
Vienna, Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde
   (Wgm)


1728 Gionata Antonio Caldara
(b. 1671, d. 1736)
oratorio Vienna, Gesellschaft (Wgm)
Vienna, Natl. Lib.
1733 Gionata Pietro Torri
(b. 1650, d. 1737)
oratorio ?

1736 
(rev. 1744)

David’s Lamentation Over Saul and Jonathan William Boyce
(b. 1711, d. 1779)
sacred cantata;
4 vv, & orch
Oxford, Bodleian Lib.
London, Royal College of Music
 pub. 1738 The Beauty of Israel is slain William Knapp
(b. 1698/99, d. 1768)
4 vv. anthem  A Sett of New Psalm-tunes and Anthems,
   Knapp

Sixteen Anthems, by Josiah Flagg
1738-39  Saul, Act 3 Scene V:
“Elegy for Saul and Jonathan”
George F. Handel
(b. 1685, d. 1759)
oratorio  oratorio
1739 Assalonne Antonio Pampani
(b. 1705, d. 1775)
oratorio  ? 
1739 L’obbedienza di Gionata  Antonio Pampani
(b. 1705, d. 1775)
oratorio Munich, Bayerische Staatsbib.
1738-40
David’s Lamentation Over Saul and Jonathan John Christopher Smith
(b. 1712, d. 1795)
oratorio lost
1743
Der so true als heyllos wider seinen sanfftmüthigen Vatter David rebellierende Sohn Absolon Gregor Joseph Werner
(b. 1693, d. 1766)
oratorio Budapest, Natl. Lib.
1745
Davide e Gionata Jean-Noël Hamal
(b. 1709, d. 1778)
oratorio Liege, Bib. Conserv. Royal de musique
1747 Jonathas Andrea Bernasconi
(b. 1706, d. 1784)
drama sacrum ?
1751 David Andrea Bernasconi
(b. 1706, d. 1784)
drama sacrum ?
1751 Davide Gennaro Manna
(b. 1715, d. 1779)
oratorio Naples, Bib. Oratoriana dei Filippini
1752 Gionata figliuol di Saule Lorenzo Gibelli
(b. 1718, d. 1812)
oratorio music lost, libretto extant
1756 L’obbedienza di Gionata Ferdinando Bertoni
(b. 1725, d. 1813)
oratorio Darmstadt, Hessische Bib.
Venice, Bib. Nat.
Pavia, S. Michele
1761 Absalon Adolph Carl Kunzen
(b. 1720, d. 1781)
oratorio Lübeck, Bib. Hansestadt
1761 David and Jonathan Charles Barbandt
(d. c1775)
oratorio lost
pub. 1763 O Absalom, my son Charles King
(b. 1687, d. 1748)
3 vv. canon A Collection of Canons, Catches, and Glees
pub. 1765 The Beauty of Israel

Anonymous
Thomas Pitt?

4 vv. anthem An Introduction to Singingby James Hewitt
1766 David und Jonathan Johann Heinrich Rolle
(b. 1716, d. 1785)
musikalisches Eligie pub. 1773, Leipzig
before 1769 Gionata Giovanni Pescetti
(b. 1704, d. 1766)
oratorio Padova, Capella Antoniana
1771 Jonathas Ferdinando Bertoni
(b. 1725, d. 1813)
oratorio;
solo voice & female choir
?
1771 Davide e Gionathan Carl von Dittersdorf
(b. 1739, d. 1799)
oratorio DK-Kk
1774 David und Jonathas Johann Demmler
(b. 1748, d. 1785)
cantata music lost, text in Augsburg, Staatsbibl.
c. 1774
Saul et Gionata

Leonardo Leo
(b. 1694, d. 1744)
attribution doubtful

oratorio lost
1775 Interitus Absalon Ferdinando Bertoni
(b. 1725, d. 1813)
oratorio;
solo voices & female chorus
?
pub. 1778 The Beauty of Israel is Slain John Arnold
(b. 1715, d. 1792)
4 vv. anthem Select Harmony, by Andrew Law
pub. 1778 David’s Lamentation William Billings
(b. 1746, d. 1800)
4 vv. anthem The Singing Master’s Assistant, Boston
1779 Victoria militum David contra Absalon filium Regis Ferdinando Bertoni
(b. 1725, d. 1813)
oratorio; solo voices & female chorus ?
1780 Per la morte di Gionata e di Saulle Gian Francesco de Majo
(b. 1732, d. 1770)
oratorio ?
1781
Jonathas Bonaventura Furlanetto
(b. 1738, d. 1817)
oratorio Venice, Bibl. del Cons.
1781 The Beauty of Israel William Billings
(b. 1746, d. 1800)
4 vv. anthem Psalm Singer’s Amusement
1782 Absalon Domenico Cimarosa
(b. 1749, d. 1801)
“action sacra” (oratorio) Dresden, Sächsiche Bib.
Münster, Santini Bib.
Paris, Natl. Lib.
London, British Lib.
Naples, Conserv. Lib.
Rome, Archivio Filippini
1785 Absalonis rebellio Bonaventura Furlanetto
(b. 1738, d. 1817)
oratorio Venice, Bibl. del Cons.

1786 Absalon (La mort d’Absalon) Henri-Montan Berton
(b. 1767, d. 1844)
cantata ?
1787 Davide Angelo DeAngelis
(d. c1825)
oratorio Podova, Bib. capitolare
1789 O Absolom William Savage
(b. 1720, d. 1789)
catch Glasgow, Euing Mus. Lib. 
1789 Assalone Angelo Baldan
(b. 1753, d. 1803)
oratorio Venice, Bibl. del Cons.
Venice, Bib. Naz. Marciana
Naples, Conserv. Lib.
1792 Gionata Niccolò Piccinni
(b. 1728, d. 1800)
oratorio Florence, Conserv. Lib.
Naples, Conserv. Lib.
1793 Davids Klage am Hermon
Johann Königslöw
(b. 1745, d. 1833)
oratorio Lübeck, Bib. Hansestadt
undated,
before 1797
Doleo super te
Juan Manuel Olivares
(b. 1760, d. 1797)
2 vv. motet
?
1797 Davide e Assalonne
Antonio Brunetti
(b? 1767, d? after 1845)
oratorio Urbino, Cappella del Sacramento
undated,
before 1798 The Beauty of Israel is slain
Robert Shenton
(b. 1730, d. 1798)
anthem ?
1800 Saul und David im Kriege
Johann Königslöw
(b. 1745, d. 1833)
oratorio lost
1819 Assalonne Domenico Cimarosa
(b. 1749, d. 1801)
oratorio Brussells, Bib. Conserv. Royal de musique
1830 David, op. 34
Bernhard Klein
(b. 1793, d. 1832)
oratorio ?
1831 Absalon Friedrich Schneider
(b. 1756, d. 1853)
oratorio ?
1834 David Sigismund Neukomm
(b. 1778, d. 1858)
oratorio Paris, Natl. Lib.
Undated,
before 1840
The Lamentation Edward James Loder
(b. 1813, d. 1865)
sacred song
Sacred Songs and Ballads
1842 Assalomne
Gaetano Capocci
(b. 1811, d. 1898)
oratorio ?
1844 Absalom
Geo. H. Curtis scena religiosa Washington, D.C., Lib. of Congress
1848 David’s Lament for Absalom
L. H. Southard
sacred song
Washington, D.C., Lib. of Congress
1849
Absalom Isaac Baker Woodbury (b. 1819, d. 1858) oratorio Washington, D.C., Lib. of Congress
The Dulcimer
pub. 1850 David
Charles Horsley
(b. 1822, d. 1876)
oratorio  
1852 Oratorio of Absalom George Nelson Allen
(b. 1812, d. 1877)
 
1856 David Georges Bizet
(b. 1838, d. 1875)
cantata lost
before 1859 David Carl Reissiger
(b. 1798, d. 1859)
oratorio
1865 O Absalom, my son!
Dudley M. Taylor sacred song, voice & piano “Dedicated by permission to J. C. Baron Lethbridge”
1875 Absalon Achille D. Campisiano

opérette bouffe

 
1884 King David’s Lament Francis W. Swift

voice & piano

 
1888 David E. C. Essex

oratorio

 
1891 David and Saul David Jenkins
(b. 1848, d. 1915)
oratorio
1896 Absalom Johann Stehle
(b. 1839, d. 1915)

chorus and orchestra

 
1901 Saul and David Carl Nielsen
(b. 1865, d. 1931)
opera
1902 David’s Lament, Op. 15 Angelo Read
(b. 1854, d. 1926)
cantata
1911 David’s Lament from Two Bible Lyrics, op. 29 Blair Fairchild
(b. 1877, d. 1933)
soprano & alto soli, chorus, & orchestra “To Gabriel Dupont”
1919 David und Absalom, op.70 Georg Schumann
(b. 1866, d. 1952)

soli and orchestra

 

1921,
(rev. 1923)

 

Lamentations de Guilboa from Le roi David

Arthur Honegger
(b. 1892, d. 1955)
oratorio
1921
(rev. 1923)
La chanson d’Ephraim from Le roi David Arthur Honegger
(b. 1892, d. 1955)
oratorio
1922 Absalom Joseph Lincoln Hall
(b. 1866, d. 1930)
dramatic cantata
1925 O Absalom, my son F. Melius Christiansen
(b. 1871, d. 1955)
SATB chorus “for my friend Stanley R. Avery…”
1928 David’s Lament Ross Lee Finney
(b. 1906, d. 1997)

choir & keyboard

 
1932 David’s Lament for Jonathan
from Eight Canons for Equal Voices
Gustav Holst
(b. 1874, d. 1934)

3-9 voices
(sopranos & altos or tenors & basses)

“for S.P.G.S.”
1936 David Maurice Jacobsen
(b. 1896, d. 1976)

ballet

pub. 1937,
(rev. 1988)
David mourneth for Absalom Normand Lockwood
(b. 1906, d. 2002)

SSAATTBB chorus

“Written at the suggestion of my wife”
1941 King David’s Lament for Jonathan Lou Harrison
(b. 1917, d. 2003)

solo tenor & piano

 
 
1946 David Mourns for Absalom David Diamond
(b. 1915, d. 2005)

solo voice & piano 

 “To Hildegard Watson”
1946 Absalom Ned Rorem
(b. 1923)

solo voice & piano

 
 
1947 Mourning Scene (from Samuel)
Ned Rorem
(b. 1923)

solo voice & string quartet

“To Lee Hoiby”
1950 Triste estaba el Rey David
from Tres canciones sefardíes
Joaquin Rodrigo
(b. 1901, d. 1999)

SATB chorus

“A Domenico de Paoli”
1951 David’s Lament for Jonathan
from Seven Songs for Countertenor and Piano
Michael Howard
(b. 1922, d. 2002)

countertenor and piano

 
 

1952-53

 

David;
  Act II Scene 3
  Act IV Scene 4

Darius Milhaud
(b. 1892, d. 1974)

opera

 

1953

Lament of David, op. 169

Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Mario
(b. 1895, d. 1968)

T, double chorus

1953

Alilot ha Gilboa
(Tales of Mt. Gilboa)

Shlomo Joffe
(b. 1909, d. 1995)

cantata

1956

David’s Lament

Mátyás Seiber
(b. 1905, d. 1960)

SATB chorus & harp or piano

 

1961

My son, my son, Absalom

 

Anna Gallos
(b. 1920) 
SATB chorus

 

“To Donald F. White”
 

1961-62

David’s Lament Over Jonathan
from Six songs from the Hebrew

Stefan Wolpe
(b. 1902, d. 1972)
voice & piano

 

“to Hilda”

1962

Planctus

Malcolm Williamson
(b. 1931, d. 2003)

Men’s chorus

“In memoriam Edward Clark”
 

1963

Lament for Absalom

 

George F. McKay
(b. 1899, d. 1970)

organ 

1968

David

Bob Burroughs
(b. 1937) 

musical drama for children’s chorus

 

1968

David’s Lament for Saul and Jonathan

Philip Hagemann
(b. 1942)

SATB

1970

And David Wept

Ezra Laderman
(b. 1924)

cantata/opera

 

 

1971 Absalom, Absalom Carl Johnson
(b. 1935)
motet, 8 part chorus
1972 Absalom My Son Ethan Haimo
(b. 1950)
chorus
1973 David wept for slain Absalom,
Opus 246, No. 1
Alan Hovhaness
(b. 1911, d. 2000)
SSATBB chorus “for Richard Westenburg”
1973 David’s Lamentation Lloyd Pfautsch
(b. 1921, d. 2003)
SATB chorus “To Howard Swan”
1974 When David Heard John Chorbajian
(b. 1936)

SATB chorus

 
 
1974 O my son Absalom
from Glorious
Abraham Kaplan
(b. 1931)

SATB chorus & orchestra

 
 
1975 When David Heard Norman Dinerstein
(b. 1937, d. 1982)
SATB chorus “dedicated to the memory of Cantor Joseph Cohn”
1977 O Absalom Elisabeth Lutyens
(b. 1906, d. 1983)
oboe, English horn, violin, viola, & cello  
1977 Absalom Eugene W. Hancock
(b. 1929, d. 1994)
sacred song,
baritone & piano
1979 Absalomfrom Five Sacred Songs Richard L. DeLong
(b. 1951, d. 1994)
voice & keyboard “for John Hanby”
1980 When David Heardfrom Three Motets David Cohen
(b. 1927)
SATB chorus “Written for the Bach & Madrigal Society”
before 1982 Absalom, My Son George Kleinsinger
(b. 1914, d. 1982)

SATB chorus

 
 
1982 David’s Lament for Jonathan Alan Ridout
(b. 1934, d. 1996)

SSAATBB chorus

 
 
1982 When David Heard Jennifer Fowler
(b. 1939)

SATB chorus & piano

 
 

1983

 

David’s Lament

 

Shlomo Joffe

(b. 1909, d. 1995)

SATB chorus

 
 
1983 “Triste Estaba el Rey David” from Romancero Mario Davidovsky
(b. 1934)

voice & chamber ensemble

 
 
1984 David’s Lament Rick Sowash
(b. 1950)

SATB

“for Bill, Carol, and Amy Goldman”
1985 King David’s Lament for Jonathan
from Three Songs
Lou Harrison
(b. 1917, d. 2003)

male chorus & chamber ensemble

1986 Absalom Timothy Whitworth Smith

SATB chorus

“To Dr. Gordon Paine and the University Choir of Cal. State Fullerton”
1988 When David Heard Colin Mawby
(b. 1936)

SATB chorus & piano

1993 When David Heard Brett Terry
(b. 1968)

SATB chorus

1994 When David Heard Benjamin Broening
(b. 1964)

Men’s Chorus

“Commissioned by Virginia Glee Club”
1995 Absalom Robert Christensen

chorus and orchestra

1995 The Lament of Absalom
Francis Wong

“Asian Improv” saxophone

1996 Absalom, Absalom Pierce Pettis

folk song; solo voice & guitar

1996 Absalom León Schidlowsky
(b. 1931)
orchestra
1997  “Absalom, My Absalom” from King David Tim Rice
(b. 1944)
Broadway musical

1997 “How Mighty Are the Fallen” from King David Tim Rice
(b. 1944)
Broadway musical

1997 David and Absalom Justin H. Rubin
(b. 1971)
cantata
1998 Absalom Dale Jergenson
(b. 1935)
SATB double choir, tympani, & piano
1998 David’s Lament from David and Saul Jan Roosendael
(b. 1960, d. 2005)
harp & chamber orchestra

1998 Lamentatio David filii sui Absalom Jacob Werner
(b. 1938)

baritone, chamber ensemble, & organ

 
1999 When David Heard Eric Whitacre
(b. 1970)
SSAATTBB chorus “for Dr. Ronald Staheli”
1999,
rev. 2005
When David Heard Richard Burchard
(b. 1960)
TTTBBB divisi

2000 David Mourns for Absalom Bern Herbolsheimer
(b. 1948)

SATB chorus

“to Fujio Matayoshi”
2001 Absalom Alexandra Du Bois
(b. 1981)

violin & prepared piano

2002 Jonathan and David David York
(b. 1958)

opera

2002 King David, the Musical
Eyal Bitton
(b. 1970)

musical

2002 Absalom
Adam Jones

guitar and jazz ensemble

2002 Absalom
Jeff Buser
(b. 1963)

solo voice & guitar

2003 Absolon, my son
Jonathan Rathbone

SSAATTBB chorus

“For Dr. Martin Ennis and the Chapel Choir of Girton College, Cambridge”
2004 When David Heard
from Three Sacred Songs
Paul Crabtree
(b. 1960)

SATB chorus

“for Magen Solomon and the San Francisco Choral Artists”
2004 Absalom
Jeffrey Cobb
(b. 1967)

SSAATTBB chorus & piano

2005 When David Heard
Patricia Alessandrini

percussion, contrabass, and electronics 

2005 When David Heard
Richard Burchard
(b. 1960)

SSATTB divisi

“for Dr. Greg Detweiler”
2005 When David Heard
Tom Wiggall
(b. 1978)

SATB chorus

 
 
2006 When David Heard, op. 10, no. 1 Tom O’ Driscoll
(b. 1986)

SSAATB chorus 

 
2006 Absalom, FIli Mi
Nathanael Pangrazio
(b. 1985)

chorus

 

 

Endnotes 

1Godt, “Prince Henry as Absalom,” 318-30. A timeline of the seventeenth-century English musical settings is located in Table A.2 of the appendix.
2A timeline spanning the ninth through twenty-first centuries of the known musical works based on David’s laments for Absalom and Jonathan is located in tables A.1 – A.3 in the appendix.
3Note that the Latin Vulgate version of this text does not include the words “to God” that appear in the Douay-Rheims English translation. However the Latin text “quis mihi tribuat ut ego moriar pro te” translates to “who would grant to me that I might die for you.” So, even though the word “Deus” does not occur in the Vulgate translation of King David’s utterance, it is implied, since God would most likely be the authority figure whom King David would ask to be given permission to die for his son.
4A transcription of the Rex autem David chant is located in Harrison, Motets of English Provenance, 171.
5English translation found in Picker, Motet Books of Andrea Antico, 64.

6The information in this table came from three sources: Bryden and Hughes, Index of Gregorian Chant; Frere, Antiphonale Sarisburiense; and Chadd and Cummings, CURSUS. For other concordances see Bailey, CANTUS.
7See Albrecht, Symphoniae Jucundae, 151-52. Gioia Filocamo is preparing a critical edition of MS Panciatichi 27, which she dates around 1506. The discantus and altus parts of Rex autem David are found in St Gall, Stiftsbibliothek, MS 463, where they are attributed to “Adrianus Villaert.” However, this attribution is unlikely, especially in view of Filocamo’s dating of Panciatichi 27.
8See Picker, Motet Books of Andrea Antico, 424-27.
9See Bernet Kempers, Opera omnia, 123-30.
10See Ribera, Rex autem David.
11See Bossuyt, Triciniorum sacrorum, 115-21.
12See Spilker, “King David’s Lamentations,” 79-84.
13Many thanks to Bonnie Blackburn, who pointed this out me at the 2007 International Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference in Vienna. Filocamo’s edition of Panciatichi MS 27 is forthcoming in the Monumenta Musica Europea series.
14Swing, “Mathieu Gascogne.”
15Elders and Forney, “Jacobus Clemens non Papa.”
16Stevenson, “Bernardino de Ribera.”.
17Bossuyt, Derde, and Willaert, “Jean de Castro.”
18Shindle, “Giovanni de Macque.”
19This English translation was provided by Lyndsey Thornton-Woods in an email to the author.
20Breviarium Romanum, 1923. The verses read include: 2 Samuel 18: 6-12, 14-17.

21See Davidson and Kreider, Pierre de la Rue Motets, 204-207 and Smijers, Werken Van Josquin, 22-25.
22See Albrecht, Symphoniae Jucundae, 55-57.
23See Pujol, Tres libros, 86 and Binkley and Frenk, Spanish Romances, 59-62.
24See Spilker, “King David’s Lamentations,” 76-78.
25Doleo super te Absalon may be a contrafactum of Doleo super te Jesu, attributed to Appenzeller in RISM 1540.7.
26See Gardner and Harris, A capella, 17-33. This work is not contained in the complete works for either Josquin or Gombert. RISM 1564.1 is the only source that contains both parts of Lugebat David Absalon together in the same source, and it is attributed to Josquin. Both parts appear in other sources as separate pieces with different texts. In fact, Garner and Harris question whether or not the two parts of Lugebat David Absalon actually belong together as one piece. See Gardner and Harris, A capella, 136-7.
27See Snow, Rodrigo de Ceballos, 149-55.
28See Skulj, Opus Musicum, 31-39.
29Atlas, Renaissance Music, 271.
30The English translation is found in Atlas, Renaissance Music, 271.
31The Latin texts are taken from Weber, Biblia Sacra.
32English biblical texts are taken from Gibbons, The Holy Bible.
33The English translation was provided by Lyndsey Thornton-Woods in an email to the author.
34The Latin text and translation is from Gardner and Harris, A capella, 137.
35The English translation was provided by Lyndsey Thornton-Woods in an email to the author.
36The English translation was provided by Dr. Charles E. Brewer in an email to the author.
37The two stanzas of the Spanish text are found in Pujol, Tres libros, 76. I have adapted the English translation for the first stanza from Davidovsky, Romancero, ii. The English translation for the second stanza was provided by Leon Garcia in an email to the author.
38Noble, “Josquin des Prez.”
39The dating of the four plainchant antiphons above is based on the earliest source for each antiphon. The information for dating the sources came from Bailey, CANTUS.
40This list of compositions is based on Godt, “Prince Henry as Absalom,” 328-330. The numbers assigned to the anonymous composers are taken from Daniel and Le Huray, English Church Music.


 

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Last modified on Monday, 01/10/2018

John D. Spilker

John D. Spilker is Assistant Professor of Music at Nebraska Wesleyan University, where he teaches courses in the music history sequence, world music, music and gender, film music, and American music. He received the Ph.D. in Musicology from The Florida State University in 2010. His current research investigates the resonance of dissonant counterpoint among various composers associated with Henry Cowell and the ultra-modern network. Research for his master's thesis traces the repertoire of musical works based on the biblical texts of King David's laments for Absalom and Jonathan; these pieces date from the ninth through the twenty-first centuries.

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