Of one the finest songs written for solo voice in the 17th century: Tarquinio Merula's Canzonetta Spirituale sopra alla nanna, Hor ch'è tempo di dormire (Venice, 1639). Composed over a bass line consisting of only two repeated notes, Merula writes a soaring melodic line, setting a visioary poem in which the Virgin Mary both celebrates the birth of her sleeping son and experiences a waking dream about his future. Featuring Jennifer Ellis Kampani, soprano; William Skeen, viola da gamba; David Tayler, archlute, and Hanneke van Proosdij, baroque organ. Live HD video from the Voices of Music Venetian Christmas Vespers concert, December, 2013.
Hor ch'è tempo di dormire
Dormi dormi fi glio e non vagire,
Perchè, tempo ancor verrà
Che vagir bisognerà.
Deh ben mio deh cor mio Fa,
Fa la ninna ninna na.
Chiudi, quei lumi divini
Come fan gl'altri bambini,
Perchè tosto oscuro velo
Priverà di lume il cielo.
Deh ben mio ...
Over prendi questo latte
Dalle mie mammelle intatte
Perchè ministro crudele
Ti prepara aceto e fiele.
Deh ben mio ...
Amor mio sia questo petto
Hor per te morbido letto
Pria che rendi ad alta voce
L'alma al Padre su la croce.
Deh ben mio del ...
Posa hor queste membra belle
Vezzosette e tenerelle
Perchè poi ferri e catene
Gli daran acerbe pene.
Deh ben mio ...

Queste mani e questi piedi
Ch'or con gusto e gaudio vedi
Ahimè com'in varij modi
Passeran acuti chiodi!
Questa faccia gratiosa
Rubiconda hor più di rosa
Sputi e schiaffi sporcheranno
Con tormento e grand'aff ano.
Ah con quanto tuo dolore
Sola speme del mio core
Questo capo e questi crini
Passeran acuti spini.
Ah ch'in questo divin petto
Amor mio dolce diletto
Vi farà piaga mortale
empia lancia e disleale.
Dormi dunque figliol mio
Dormi pur redentor mio
Perchè poi con lieto viso
Ci vedrem in Paradiso.
Hor che dorme la mia vita
Del mio cor gioia compita
Taccia ognun con puro zelo
Taccian sin la terra e'l Cielo.
E fra tanto io che farò
Il mio ben contemplerò
ne starò col capo chino
Sin che dorme il mio Bambino.

Now that it's time to sleep,
sleep, son, and don't cry;
for the time will come soon enough
when crying is needed.
O my dearest, my heart:
lullaby and sleep now
Close those divine eyes
as other babies do;
for soon a dark veil
will deprive the sky of light
O my dearest, my heart . .
Or take this milk
from my immaculate breasts;
for a cruel magistrate
is preparing vinegar and gall for you.
O my dearest, my heart . . .
My love, let this breast
be now a soft bed for you,
before, with a loud voice, you give
your soul to the Father, on the cross.
O my dearest...
Rest now your beautiful small limbs,
so charming and delicate;
for later, irons and chains
will cause them bitter pains.
O my dearest, my heart . .

These hands and feet,
which now you behold with zest and joy--
alas, in how many ways
will sharp nails pierce them!
This graceful face,
ruddier than a rose--
spitting and slaps will defile it
with torture and great suffering.
Ah, with how much pain for you,
O only hope of my heart,
this head and this brow
will be pierced by sharp thorns.
For in this divine breast,
O my sweet and delightful love,
an impious traitorous spear
will make a mortal wound.
Sleep, therefore, my son,
sleep then, my Savior;
for later with joyful faces
we'll see each other in Paradise.
Now that you are sleeping, O my life,
O complete joy of my heart,
let all be quiet with pure zeal,
even the earth and the heavens.
Meanwhile, what shall I do?
I will watch my dear,
not letting my head bow
as long as my baby sleeps.
Translation: Lawrence Rosenwald

Respectfully submitted for personal-view contest of Vitaliy.

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