Quis numerare queat (Jacob Obrecht)

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  • (Posted 2016-07-14)  CPDL #40339:       
Editor: John Hetland (submitted 2016-07-14).   Score information: Letter, 16 pages, 1.55 MB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Source: New Obrecht Edition, vol. 16, ed. Chris Maas, KVVNM, 1996. Notation here is a minor third higher than the original with note values halved. Translation, text underlay, musica ficta and some alterations (see last page) by John Hetland and the Renaissance Street Singers. 24 Apr 2016

General Information

Title: Quis numerare queat
Composer: Jacob Obrecht

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: SacredMotet

Language: Latin
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 1505 in Motetti liber 4, no. 6
Description: A celebration of peace, or a truce, the actual occasion unknown.

External websites:

Original text and translations

Latin.png Latin text

Quis numeráre quéat bellórum séva perácta,
 dámpna reférta mális inreparabílibus?
Cénseat ípse bónus perpéssus tália, sed qui
 ílla síbi intúlerit cénseat ípse málus.
Dícat quísque quod hec nóbis Déus ómnia fécit,
 nóstris peccátis prémia dígna férens.

Audiit ípse támen pópuli gémitus lachrymósos,
 ad pácem vérsus, híncque misértus éi,
pácem donávit e céli cúlmine tráctam,
 quam nec mortáles sic dáre suffícerent.
Ergo ómnis pópulus nunc cum júbilo modulétur
 et Dómino láudes exímias réferat.

Fúnde préces Gálle fundántque préces inimíci,
 quéque es in térris nátio fúnde préces
ad Dóminum, ut dáta pax sit duratúra per évum,
 néu módico léta témpore deínde gémas,
múneris et tánti ne si sis ímmemor ípse
 lóra tráhat, quáre pácis habéna cádat.

English.png English translation

Who could count the cruel deeds of the wars,
 the damage filled with irreparable evils?
Let the good man himself count, who has suffered such things,
 but let the bad man count who himself has inflicted them on him.
Anyone would say that God did all this to us,
 bringing us the merited wages of sins.

He himself, however, heard the tearful groans of the people,
 turned to peace, and hence, pitying them,
gave peace from the summit of heaven drawn,
 which mortals would not be able so to give.
Therefore let all the people sing for joy
 and give back extraordinary praises to the Lord.

Pour prayers, Frenchman, and may the enemies pour prayers,
 and every nation on earth pour prayers
to the Lord, that the given peace shall last forever,
 lest you be joyful a little while and then groan,
and that if you be unmindful of so great a boon, he himself
 may draw the lash, whereby the rein of peace shall fall.