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  • Writer's pictureFr. Scott Haynes

De Profundis, Michel Richard de Lalande

Michel Richard Delalande (1657-1726) held posts in several Paris churches before entering into the service of King Louis XIV as organist du Roi. His Leçons de Ténèbres (1711) were written for Ste-Chapelle. There survive in all 77 grands motets, 9 élévations (S. 78-86), Miserere & O filii (with lost works S. 87-90), 16 extracted petits motets (extracted from the grands, S.91-106), 9 Leçons de ténèbres (S.107-124), Messe en plainchant musical (S.126) Cantique (Racine, S.127), Tandis que Babylone (S.128) & numerous stage works (e.g., opera, cantates, ballets) and instrumental works.

Born in Paris, he was a contemporary of Jean-Baptiste Lully and François Couperin. Delalande taught music to the daughters of Louis XIV of France, and was director of the French chapel royal from 1714 until his death at Versailles in 1726.

Delalande was arguably the greatest composer of French grands motets, a type of sacred work that was more pleasing to Louis XIV because of its pomp and grandeur, written for soloists, choir and comparatively large orchestra. According to tradition, Louis XIV organized a contest between composers, giving them the same sacred text and time to compose the musical setting. He alone was the judge. Delalande was one of four winners assigned to compose sacred music for each quarter of the year (the other composers being Coupillet, Collasse and Minoret). Delalande's was the most important quarter of the year because of the Christmas holiday. Later he had full responsibility for the church music for the complete year.


Out of the depths I have cried to thee, O Lord:

Lord, hear my voice. Let thy ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.

If thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities: Lord, who shall stand it.

For with thee there is merciful forgiveness:

and by reason of thy law, I have waited for thee, O Lord.

My soul hath relied on his word:

my soul hath hoped in the Lord.

From the morning watch even until night,

let Israel hope in the Lord.

Because with the Lord there is mercy:

and with him plentiful redemption.

And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

This performance of the De profundis by the Ensemble Pygmalion was conducted by Raphael Pichon.


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