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Gounod composed both the words (in French) and music to this song in April 1893, six months before his death, so it is one of his last compositions. Some consider it to be one of his last expressions of faith. The song was written originally for mezzo-soprano with orchestral accompaniment. It is thought not to have been published during his lifetime; however, an arrangement for piano and voice was published on 15 December 1894 in a famous French literary magazine, La Revue de Paris. The original title of the song is Repentir, meaning "Repentance," and is subtitled Scene sous forme de priere (literally, "Scene in the form of a prayer"). An original copy of this periodical is found in the rare books collection at Stanford University. Some find the 19th-century Roman Catholic images of mortification, humiliation, and punishment in the original text a bit unsettling. The English translation is more gentle, but still fairly true to the original French text. Some editions also include a text in Latin. The modern English text, added sometime later by an anonymous translator, is as follows:Ah! turn me not away, receive me, tho’ unworthy!/Hear Thou my cry, behold, Lord, my distress!/Answer me from Thy throne, haste Thee, Lord, to mine aid,/Thy pity show in my deep anguish!/Let not the sword of vengeance smite me,/Tho’ righteous Thine anger, O Lord!/Shield me in danger, O Regard me! On Thee, Lord, alone will I call./O Divine Redeemer! O Divine Redeemer!/I pray Thee, grant me pardon, and remember not my sins!/Forgive me, O divine Redeemer!/Night gathers round my soul; fearful I cry to Thee;/Come to mine aid, O Lord! Haste Thee, Lord, haste to help me!/Hear my cry, Save me, Lord, in Thy mercy;/Hear my cry! Come and save me, O Lord!/O, divine Redeemer! I pray Thee, grant me pardon,/And remember not, O Lord, my sins!/Save, in the day of retribution, from Death shield Thou me, O my God!/O, divine Redeemer, have mercy! Help me, my Savior! What has made this song so remarkably universally treasured? Certainly the lyrical tune is easy to remember. The text also speaks to the hearts of all listeners who love the Savior and trust in Him for forgiveness and a blessing. But also impressive is the knowledge that this gifted, inspired composer chose to seal his long career in sacred music with this final moving testimony. [Source: WIKIPEDIA]
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Reviews of O Divine Redeemer (GOUNOD) for Vocal Solo (Soprano) with Piano Accompaniment, arr. by Pamela Webb Tubbs
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