Benjamin Britten: Jubilate Deo
Jubilate Deo was composed in 1961 at the request of H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh. This joyful work is based on Psalm 100, with Britten using the English translation. This four-part choral work also features a prominent organ part. Jubilate Deo was first heard in St George’s Chapel and has been recorded many times since. A favourite of the Duke, Jubilate Deo was performed at his 80th and 90th birthdays, as well as part of his funeral service in April 2021.
O be joyful in the Lord, all ye lands;
Serve the Lord with gladness and come before his presence with a song.
Be ye sure that the Lord he is God:
It is he that hath made us and not we ourselves;
We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
O go your way into his gates with thanksgiving,
And into his courts with praise.
Be thankful unto him and speak good of his name.
For the Lord is gracious, His mercy is everlasting;
And his truth endureth from generation to generation.
Opening with a sparkling organ theme, the voices enter in unison. The lightness of the music paired with the organ accompaniment adds to the jubilant atmosphere that Britten was aiming for. Throughout this work the music shifts in dynamic and intensity, and this is often persuaded by the fluctuating texture of the piece. Britten’s richer sections are often louder to create a more forefront effect. The deathly quiet section near the end adds a new character into the mix, before the sparkling organ returns once more before the many ‘Amens’ begin. The piece ends with a powerful final chord from the organ.
Ⓒ Alex Burns