Haec dicit Dominus

William Byrd
Moderate (Grades 4-6)
5 minutes
Instrumental parts
Not available

Byrd's Haec dicit Dominus belongs in spirit, if not directly, to the 'Jerusalem' motets - that group of motets with texts referring to the destruction of Jerusalem and/or the Exile, with which Byrd expressed his feelings about the loss of the Catholic church, and the 'internal exile' of the Catholics in England. To this immediate group belong Ne irascaris Domine, Vide Domine and Tribulationes civitatum, while the extraordinary Unam petii and Plorans plorabit in the Gradualia clearly share their subject material and their sentiments.

Haec dicit Dominus, published in 1591, is a non-liturgical text drawn directly from Jeremiah (Jer, 31, 15-17), clearly set in the same desolate mood as the other motets refered to - and in Byrd's setting sharing with Vide Domine the low clef combination, Mezzo, Alto, Tenor, Baritone, Bass, which is unique to these two pieces. The reference to Rachel obviously suits this piece to the nowadays rarely observed Feast of Holy Innocents, December 28.

Thus saith the Lord: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children; she refuseth to be comforted for her children, because they are not. (2. Pars) Thus saith the Lord: refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears; for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.

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