Leopold I: Mottetto Heu! heu! heu! Peccatores

Mottetto di sua Maestá Cesarea Leopoldo Primo. Heu! heu! heu! Peccatores

á 4 voci [Soprano, Alto, Tenore, Basso], 3 Viole da gamba [e Organo]. Con ripieni.

Sacred concerto for the Easter Saturday vigil in the major Hofburgkapelle.
Score (copy) from Leopold's bedroom library (Bibliotheca cubicularia): A-Wn Mus.Hs. 15844 (older shelfmark: A.N.33.A.3.)

Set of parts of the court chapel (1st half of the 18th cent.): A-Wn Mus.Hs. 16053
23 parts: CATB concerto and ripieno, Viola da Gamba 1-3 con., Viola 1-3 rip., Basso di Viola e Fagotto rip., Cornetto rip., Trombone 1-3 rip, Violone, Tiorba and 2x Organo.

Verovio edition

Edirom edition

download score

During Leopold’s time, scenic theatrical musical performances in front of the Holy Sepulchre were usual at the Viennese imperial court. These Rappre­sentazione sacra al Santissimo Sepolcro (Sepolcro), which were performed on Maudy Thursday and Good Friday, included reflections upon Christ’s death, repeating the passion liturgy of the Sacrum Triduum in their own words. The motet Heu, heu, heu! Peccatores presented here corresponds thematically to the liturgical events of Easter Saturday. The imperial court held a vigil at the Holy Sepulchre as part of their devotions in the great chapel of the Hofburg.

The order of worship at the time of Charles VI (1711-1740), edited by Friedrich W. Riedel in Kirchenmusik am Hofe Karls VI. (Munich-Salzburg 1977), lists the sequence Stabat mater dolorosa by Emperor Leopold I (A-Wn Mus.Hs. 15731, 1670) and the motet Miserere peccavi by Marc’Antonio Ziani (~1653-1715) as the music performed during this church service. Presumably the work by Charles VI’s court composer replaced the older music by Emperor Leopold. The sequence Stabat mater dolorosa and the motet Heu! heu! heu! Peccatores are very similar in structure and are scored for the same instruments and singers (choir, four viola da gambas and organ). In both works, the soloists are accompanied concertante by a gamba quartet. The instruments’ dark timbre is well suited to the gloomy atmosphere of the vigil by the sepulchre.

The motet consists of a dialogue between the herald ("Evangelist"), sung by the bass solo, and the sinners, represented by the soprano, alto and tenor soloists. The choir begs for God’s mercy several times. The joint final chorus Sei mit gnädig lieber Jesus sets the mood for Christ’s resurrection

Sources: Herbert Seifert: Sepolcro in Oesterreichisches Musiklexikon. Marc Strümper: Die Viola da Gamba am Österreichischen Kaiserhof (Ph.D. thesis Uni­versi­ty Vienna 2001).

Work description of Herbert Seifert

Based on its text, which refers to Christ’s passion, the motet Heu, heu, heu! Peccatores is probably intended for performance during a church service at Passiontide. The mournful call to the sinners is followed by a quote from the Old Testament Book of Isaiah (57,1) that is interpreted as a reference to Christ’s death. The rest of the text is newly composed, most of it in rhyme. Like the text, the musical form is freer than in the Stabat Mater, structured as a succession of short sections that vary in their orchestration and composition. Leopold wrote this piece for four soloists and choir, accompanied only by three viole da gamba, scored in alto and tenor clef, and organ. In line with the usual practice of the time, the choral parts would have been reinforced by cornets and trombones, as is indeed confirmed by additional parts for this motet dating from the 18th century.

Initially, the gambe are used exclusively in the chordal accompaniment of the bass soloist’s reproachful recitatives in which he addresses the sinners. The sinners, represented by the other soloists, reply full of guilt and contrition; the choir always follows this reply with a plea for mercy. This sequence is repeated three times before the final part, in which the bass turns to God in a beseeching arioso and the gambe accompany the choir. The bass soloist and the choir alternate in the final entreaty, which shifts to a hopeful G major. Before this final part, the mournful diminished fourth interval frames each section: a falling diminished fourth to begin with, a rising one at the end.

Sequence Stabat mater dolorosa, Edirom edition

Short description in the catalogue of the Music Collection of the Austrian National Library

Bass: Heu! heu! heu! Peccatores iustus periit et non est qui recogitet in corde suo mortem substinuit amore non more caritate non necessitate ad maiora etiam tormenta ultra paratur. Bass: Weh, ihr Sünder, der Gerechte ist dahingegangen, und da ist keiner, der es in seinem Herzen bedenkt; er hat den Tod auf sich genommen, aus Liebe, nicht nach Gesetz, aus Nächstenliebe nicht aus Notwendigkeit er wird auch noch größeren Qualen ausgesetzt sein.
Canto: Ego reus tu damnatus ego homo et tu deus o quam iustus dolor, dolor meus. Canto: Ich bin schuldig, du verdammt, ich der Mensch und du der Gott, o welch gerechter Schmerz, mein Schmerz.
Soli/Tutti: Mundi salus caeli decor, parce mihi, parce precor. Soli/Tutti: Das Heil der Welt, die Zierde des Himmels, sei mir gnädig, so bitte ich.
Bass: Vendi se permisit ut vos exigeret caput in cruce inclinavit, ut vos exigeret spiritum emisit ne vos ammitteret. Pro iniquitatibus vestris cum iniquis reputatus. Bass: Er ließ sich verkaufen, um euch zu befreien, er neigte am Kreuz sein Haupt, um euch zu befreien, er hauchte seinen Geist aus, um euch nicht zu verlieren. Für eure Verbrechen ist er unter die Missetäter gezählt worden.
Alto: Ego reus … Alto: Ich bin schuldig ...
Soli/Tutti: Mundi salus caeli decor ... Soli/Tutti: Das Heil der Welt ...
Bass: Etiam si tamquam reos vos odisset eum debetis amare quia vos creavit, quid facietis autem, quia vos amavit, vos redemit, vos salvavit. Bass: Auch wenn er euch gleichsam hassen würde, seid ihr ihm Liebe schuldig, denn er hat euch geschaffen. Was macht ihr aber? Da er euch geliebt, euch erlöst, euch geheilt hat?
Alto: Pulvis sumus nil valemus nisi corde condolere, nisi amare semper fiere, Alto: Wir sind Staub, wir vermögen nichts als im Herzen mitzuleiden, wenn nicht zu lieben, immer zu weinen.
Soli/Tutti: Parce Iesu miserere. Soli/Tutti: Sei mir gnädig, o Jesus, erbarme dich.
Bass: Quid ergo retribuetis pro vulneribus Christi in cruce pendentis pro sanguine morientis pro beneficio redementis. Bass: Was also, was gebt ihr für die Wunden des am Kreuze hängenden Christus, für das Blut des Sterbenden, für die Wohltat des Heilenden?
Tenore: Umbra sumus nil habemus quod prestemus tanto amori nisi optare secum mori. Tenore: Ein Schatten sind wir und haben nichts, was wir geben könnten für solche Liebe wenn nicht den Wunsch mit ihm zu sterben.
Solo/Tutti: Parce Iesu peccatori. Solo/Tutti: Sei, o Jesus, dem Sünder gnädig.
Bass: Bone deus dulcis amor si tu mortuus es pro me, fac me dignum ista spe, quod non vivam sine te, quod non moriar sine te, quod non vivam sine te. Bass: Guter Gott, süße Liebe, wenn du gestorben bist für mich, mach mich würdig dieser Hoffnung, dass ich nicht lebe ohne dich, dass ich nicht sterbe ohne dich.
Soli/Tutti: Parce mihi Iesu care et ut possis me salvare fac me amplius non peccare. Parce mihi Iesu care, parce mihi Iesu care. Soli/Tutti: Sei mir gnädig, o Jesus, lieber Jesus, und damit du mich retten kannst, gib, dass ich nicht ferner sündige. Sei mir gnädig, lieber Jesus, sei mir gnädig, lieber Jesus.

(German translation: Konrad Ruhland)