top of page
  • Writer's pictureFr. Scott Haynes

Timor et Tremor, Francis Poulenc


Timor et tremor venerunt super me,

et caligo cecidit super me:

miserere mei, Domine, miserere mei,

quoniam in te confidit anima mea.

Exaudi, Deus, deprecationem meam,

quia refugium meum es tu et adjutor fortis.

Domine, invocavi te, non confundar.


Fear and trembling came over me,

and darkness fell over me:

have mercy on me, O Lord, have mercy on me,

for my soul trusts in you.

Hear, O God, my prayer,

for you are my refuge and my strong helper.

Lord, I have called upon you, I shall not be confounded.


Quatre motets pour un temps de pénitence (Four Penitential Motets), FP 97, are four sacred motets composed by Francis Poulenc in 1938–39. He wrote them on Latin texts for penitence, scored for four unaccompanied voices. The text for the first motet, Timor et tremor combines verses from psalms 54 and 30, which Orlando de Lassus had also set as a motet.

Poulenc returned to sacred music first in 1937 when he composed the Messe en sol majeur (Mass in G). He then wrote the four motets, at different times. He wrote Timor et tremor last, in Noizay in January 1939, and dedicated it to Monsieur l'Abbé Maillet. The first performance was sung in February 1939, probably in Paris, by Les Petits Chanteurs à la Croix de Bois, repeated in several churches in Paris during the Holy Week, according to a review by Claude Chamfray.

Music: 4 Motets pour un temps de pénitence, FP 97: I. Timor et tremor (Largement)

Choir: The Sixteen

Director: Harry Christophers

Album: Poulenc: Sacred Works ℗1990

Label: Erato/Warner Classics, Warner Music, UK Ltd.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page