O mater, dulcis mater, habeo quid dicam,
O mother, dear mother, I have something to tell you.
Thus the dialogue begins of Jesus on the cross with his mother Mary. It has been set to music by Wenzel Gunther Jacob, 1685 – 1734. A renowned composer, not only in his own country.
Mr. Joop Volp, organ player from the Netherlands drew our attention to this Benedictine Monk, contemporary of Johann Sebastian Bach and of Jan Dismas Zelenka, just like Jacob from Bohemia. Just like the English song Stabat Mater under rode, not the Stabat Mater text has been set to music, but a Dialogus valedictorius, a farewell dialogue, between Jesus and Mary.
A moving miniature opera. Jesus thanks his mother in the hour of his death: ‘thank you for your concern, for the food with which you fed me, for your sorrow but this is the hour when the sword has pierced your soul’ (words from the Stabat Mater text). And Mary tells her son that with him she feels shackled, scourged, crowned, crucified. Both realise that the will of the Father of Jesus must be done. Their dialogue ends as follows:
Jesus: Farewell, Mother!
Mary: Will you leave me desolate?
Jesus: On the third day I will visit you, farewell, dear mother!
M: Ah, my son, my son!
J: I lift up my hand over you on the cross on which I hang for a little while longer. Goodbye.
M: And I’m hanging on together. Ah my heart is broken, the breast is extremely distressed
.J: Farewell, woman
M: Farewell, Jesus
J/M: Farewell, fa…
Composer Wentzel Gunther Jacob was a monk in the Benedictine monasteries in Kladruby (1696) and from 1698 in the Brevnov Monastery in the Old Town of Prague. He was a choirmaster, singer and organ player. He composed sacred music, including four oratorios and more than thirty masses. And: he is on our list of Missing CDs, he also wrote a Stabat Mater for four voices, two violins and organ!
The farewell dialogue, 7.45 minutes has been beautifully recorded on CD in 2008 by Capella Regia Prague, conducted by Robert Hugo, with Hana Blazikova soprano, and Jaromir Nosek, bass. The recording was in the Benedictine monastery in Brevnov, founded in 993, the oldest male monastery in Bohemia. The CD also contains a short beautiful Pentecost cantata by Jacob: Factus est repente, and compositions for organ by contemporaries. (label Arta, F10162).
Mr. Volp wrote to us: a grandiose duet of Jesus and Mary, in which he announces his mother he will visit her in three days. The emotions are bursting on BAROQUE top level, comparable to the schlager Erbarme dich, such a gem! Thank you very much, Mr. Volp. The English translation of the complete text (Mr. Ignace Verberk) you will find here.