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Symphoniae sacrae I

Symphoniae sacrae I (literally: Sacred Symphonies, Book One), Op. 6, is a collection of different pieces of vocal sacred music on Latin texts, composed by Heinrich Schütz, published in 1629. He set mostly psalms and excerpts from the Song of Solomon for one to three voices, with various instruments and continuo. Its twenty pieces were assigned 257 to 276 in the Schütz-Werke-Verzeichnis (SWV), the catalogue of his works. Two additional volumes appeared later, Symphoniae sacrae II in 1647, and Symphoniae sacrae III in 1650.

Symphoniae sacrae I
Sacred vocal music by Heinrich Schütz
Heinrich Schütz 2 cropped.png
The composer of the collection in 1627
CatalogueOp. 6, SWV 257 to 276
TextPsalms and other biblical texts
DedicationJohann Georg II
Published1629 (1629)


Schütz composed the first collection during his second study trip to Venice. During his first visit he studied the Venetian polychoral style with Giovanni Gabrieli. Returning in 1628 after Gabrieli's death, he studied with his successor at St Mark's Basilica, Claudio Monteverdi.[1][2] Schütz was in the service of the Protestant Elector of Saxony Johann Georg I, and dedicated the collection to the Elector's son, crown prince Johann Georg II, then 16 years old. The texts are mostly taken from the Bible, most of them setting excerpts from psalms and from the Song of Solomon. Schütz set the texts as concertos for various combinations of one to three voices, instruments (both strings and winds) and basso continuo.[1]

Schütz published the collection in 1629 in Venice as his Symphoniae sacrae. Opus Sextum. Opus Ecclesiasticum Secundum., his sixth work, and his second sacred work.[1] In his Latin foreword, he mentions Gabrieli, but not Monteverdi.[1] The composer has been described as "universal" (katholikos), and after his Cantiones sacrae published a second work in Latin. The musicologist Matteo Messori notes:

Schütz employed the international language that united European Christendom (as well as often being the language of communication between Lutherans of different nationalities) and hence potentially addressed Christians of every faith.[3]

Schütz later composed two more collections titled Symphoniae sacrae as Op. 10 and Op. 12. The general title was common at the time and was used by many composers, including his teacher including Giovanni Gabrieli who used it for his larger concertos.[1]


The collection contains twenty different individual concertos with numbers 257 to 276 in the SWV. The following table shows a sequence number, the SWV number, the first line of the Latin text replacing a title, a translation, an abbreviation of the text source and notes. The translations follow Emmanuel Music for SWV 257, 263, 264,[4] a study bible for the Song of Solomon, otherwise the King James version. Links to that bible version are provided in the next column. Note that psalm numbering and verse numbering within a psalm is different in different editions. The last column provides a link to the details about the piece from the Schütz Association, which contains the text, a translation to German, the volume in the Neue Schütz-Ausgabe, biblical source(s), and further links to the collection's history, original foreword, analysis, dedication, original cover, reception and sources.[4]

No. SWV Title English Source Details
1 257 Paratum cor meum, Deus My heart is ready, O God [5] Psalms 108:1–3 257
2 258 Exultavit cor meum in Domino My heart rejoiceth in the Lord 1 Samuel 2:1–2 258
3 259 In te, Domine, speravi In thee, O Lord, have I hoped Psalms 30:1–2,1 259
4 260 Cantabo domino in vita mea I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live Psalms 104:33 260
5 261 Venite ad me omnes qui laboratis Come unto me, all ye that labour Matthew 11:28–30 261
6 262 Jubilate Deo omnis terra Make a joyful noise unto the Lord Psalms 100 262
7 263 Anima mea liquefacta est My soul melted when my beloved spoke [6] Song of Solomon 5:6; 2:14; 5:13; 5:8 263
8 264 Adjuro vos, filiae Jerusalem I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem [6] 264
9 265 O quam tu pulchra es, amica mea How beautiful you are, my love [7] Song of Solomon 4:1-5,8 265
10 266 Veni de Libano, veni, amica mea Advance from Lebanon, my spouse [7] 266
11 267 Benedicam Dominum in omni tempore I will bless the Lord at all times Psalms 34:1–2 267
12 268 Exquisivi Dominum et exaudivit me I sought the Lord, and he heard me Psalms 34:4–6 268
13 269 Fili mi, Absalon My son, Absalon 2 Samuel 18:32 269
14 270 Attendite, popule meus Give ear, O my people Psalms 78:1–3 270
15 271 Domine, labia mea aperies O Lord, open thou my lips Psalms 51:15 271
16 272 In lectulo per noctes On my bed, throughout the night [7] Song of Solomon 3:1-2,4 272
17 273 Invenerunt me costudes civitatis The watchers who guard the city found me [7] 273
18 274 Veni, dilecte mi, in hortum meum May my beloved enter into his garden [7] Song of Solomon 5:1 274
19 275 Buccinate in neomenia tuba Blow the trumpet when the moon is new [8] Psalms 81:3,1; 98:6 275
20 276 Jubilate Deo in chordis Let us rejoice in God with strings and organ [8] Psalms 150:4; Psalms 98:4 276


Schütz followed Monteverdi's seconda pratica in setting the biblical texts not in the older polyphonic style, but in dramatic declamation close to the opera of the period. This approach to word setting mirrors the ideas of the Reformation in its focus on the words of scripture. The settings have been described as "eloquent, sensitive, and often sensuous".[9]


The Symphoniae sacrae are part of the complete edition of the composer's works by Carus-Verlag, begun in 1992 in continuation of the Stuttgart Schütz Edition. The edition uses the Heinrich-Schütz-Archiv of the Hochschule für Musik Dresden.[10] They were recorded in 2003 with the Cappella Augustana including singers Anna Mikołajczyk, Marzena Lubaszka, Piotr Lykowski, Krzysztof Szmyt, Robert Pozarski, Harry van der Kamp, Bogdan Makal, Walter Testolin and Gian Paolo Dal Dosso, conducted by organist Matteo Messori.[3][2] They were recorded in 2016, as part of the complete recordings of works by Schütz, by the Dresdner Kammerchor and organist Ludger Rémy, conducted by Hans-Christoph Rademann, with soloists Dorothee Mields, Isabel Jantschek, David Erler, Georg Poplutz, Tobias Mäthger and Felix Schwandte.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Entstehung Symphonia sacrae I SWV 257 – 276" (in German). Heinrich-Schütz-Haus. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  2. ^ a b Hugill, Robert. "Heinrich Schütz (1585–1672) / Symphoniae Sacrae I / Symphoniae Sacrae II / Weihnachtshistorie". Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  3. ^ a b Messori, Matteo. "Schütz: musicus perfectissimus et universalis" (PDF). Brilliant Classics. pp. 13–14. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  4. ^ a b Smith, Craig. "Motet & Liturgical Works Notes & Translations". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  5. ^ "Heinrich Schütz: SWV 257, Symphoniae Sacrae I". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Heinrich Schütz: SWV 263–4, Symphoniae Sacrae I". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e "The Sacred Bible: The Song of Songs of Solomon". Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Heinrich Schütz: SWV 275, Symphoniae Sacrae I". Emmanuel Music. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  9. ^ a b Rogers, Curtis. "Heinrich Schütz (1585–1672) / Symphonie Sacrae I (1629)". Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  10. ^ "Heinrich Schütz – Stuttgart Schütz Edition". Carus-Verlag. Retrieved 24 January 2014.

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