Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594)

Palestrina’s mastery of strict Renaissance counterpoint was used as a pedagogical model by students of nearly every succeeding generation. "Super flumina Babylonis" is one of his most evocative motets, serving as an example of what is now universally idealized at the “Palestrina style.”  This setting of Psalm 137, the appointed psalm for the day in our Episcopal lectionary, tells of the Children of Israel who have been captured, exiled from Jerusalem, and made slaves. With great poetry, meticulous voice leading and refined dissonance, Palestrina depicts them on the banks of a river, longing to return to their homeland. 

©Ryan Turner

Back to Other Notes & Translations