Nigra sum, sed formosa (Gioseffo Zarlino)

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  • (Posted 2020-11-30)  CPDL #61725:  Network.png
Editor: Christopher Shaw (submitted 2020-11-30).   Score information: A4, 13 pages, 530 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes: Includes a keyboard reduction of the a cappella choral score. Please click on the link for preview/playback/PDF download.
  • (Posted 2015-06-25)  CPDL #35889:       
Editor: John Hetland (submitted 2015-06-25).   Score information: Letter, 8 pages, 1021 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Source: L'Arte Musicale in Italia, ed. Luigi Torchi, Vol. I, G. Ricoldi & Co., 1897. We have raised the notation a wholetone. Text underlay, translation, emendations (see last page) and musica ficta by John Hetland and The Renaissance Street Singers. 6/26/96

General Information

Title: Nigra sum, sed formosa
Composer: Gioseffo Zarlino

Number of voices: 5vv   Voicing: SATTB
Genre: SacredMotet

Language: Latin
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 1549
Description: Song of Songs 1:4-6

External websites:

Original text and translations

Latin.png Latin text

Nígra sum, sed formósa,
 fíliæ Jerúsalem,
Sícut tabernácula Cédar,
 sícut pélles Salomónis.
Nolíte me consideráre
 quod fúsca sim,
Quía decolorávit me sol.

Fílii mátris méae
 pugnavérunt cóntra me;
Posuérunt me custódem in víneis,
Víneam méam non custodívi.
Indica míhi, quem díligit ánima méa,
 úbi páscas,
Ubi cúbes in merídie,
Ne vagári incípiam
 post gréges sodálium tuórum.

English.png English translation

I am dark, but comely,
 O daughters of Jerusalem,
Like the tents of Kedar,
 like the pelts of Solomon.
Do not gaze at me
 because I am swarthy,
For the sun has discolored me.

The sons of my mother
 contended against me;
They made me keeper of the vineyards;
My own vineyard I have not kept.
Tell me, you whom my soul loves,
 where you pasture,
Where you lie down at midday,
Lest I begin to wander
 after the flocks of your companions.