O bone Jesu (Robert Carver)
- Editor: Philip Legge (submitted 2006-09-28). Score information: A4, 18 pages, 270 kB Copyright: Personal
- Edition notes: Slightly rescored from Sabine Cassola's edition, for 3×S, 2×A, 8×T, 3×Bar, 3×B, and optionally, a 9-part solo group, comprised SSATTTBarBB.
- Editor: Mick Swithinbank (submitted 2005-11-02). Score information: A4, 11 pages, 35 kB Copyright: Personal
- Edition notes: 6-part motet (reduced from 19 voices) Voicing: Treble, Mean, Alto, Tenor, Baritone, Bass. (Score error: Please note that, in bars 44-46 of my edition, 'secundam' should read 'secundum'.)
- Editor: Sabine Cassola (submitted 2004-09-15). Score information: A4, 30 pages, 724 kB Copyright: CPDL
- Edition notes: 19-part motet.
Title: O bone Jesu
Composer: Robert Carver
Number of voices: 19 or 6vv Voicings: SSSAATTTTTTTTTTTBBB or SSATBB
Genre: Sacred, Motet
Instruments: A cappella
Manuscript c.1501-1546 in the Carvor Choirbook, no. 5 & 26
- Notes by Mick Swithinbank
Carver's O bone Jesu is scored for 19 voices, most of the parts being suitable only for men, although they also include two high treble lines, which would have been sung by groups of boys. (A curious detail is that one of the men's voices has a range of two octaves, from F to f', suggesting that Carver had a specific singer in mind).
Although some excellent professional recordings of the work exist, the scoring presents insuperable problems to most choirs. However, it is only at certain points that Carver uses the full 19 voices, particularly to lend weight to the invocations of the name of Jesus, which he does with massive and awe-inspiring sonorities. Otherwise, much of the work is scored for 3 to 5 voices, which means that in my rescoring for 6, not a note has been lost in these sections, although inevitably the variety of voicing has. A large choir could choose to assign certain sections of the arrangement to soloists - not least, because of the complexity of the writing - and by all means to different soloists for different sections of the work. (If in doubt, see the Cassola edition on cpdl to identify the appropriate sections).
I have pitched the work in D major: this is less of a strain for the sopranos, who no longer have to sustain frequent top As and struggle with a generally unkind tessitura. As Carver wrote the full and solo sections in very different styles, there is still a good deal of variety in this 'chamber' version of the work, and it is interesting to contrast the same composer's 'Gaude flore virginali', which is for 5 voices throughout and maintains a decorated style at all times, so that the contrast between sections can only be produced by varying the number of singers - whereas my version of O bone Jesu can if necessary even be (and has been) performed by six soloists. Purists may look askance at this venture, but I feel that it would be a pity for choirs not to have the opportunity to experience such a magnificent work as O bone Jesu at first hand.
As usual, the score may be freely performed, but I would be interested to hear about any performance at mickswithinbank at gmail.com (or indeed to receive any other comments).
Original text and translations
Carver's setting is more extensive than others.
O bone Jesu, O piissime Jesu, O dulcissime Jesu,
O good Jesus, O most holy Jesus, O most sweet Jesus,