O bone Jesu (Robert Carver)

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  • (Posted 2006-09-28)  CPDL #12709:   
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.
  • (Posted 2005-11-02)  CPDL #11622:       
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'.)
  • (Posted 2004-09-15)  CPDL #07869:        (Finale 2000)
Editor: Sabine Cassola (submitted 2004-09-15).   Score information: A4, 30 pages, 724 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: 19-part motet.

General Information

Title: O bone Jesu
Composer: Robert Carver

Number of voices: 19 or 6vv   Voicings: SSSAATTTTTTTTTTTBBB or SSATBB
Genre: SacredMotet

Language: Latin
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).

External websites:

Original text and translations

Carver's setting is more extensive than others.

Latin.png Latin text

O bone Jesu, O piissime Jesu, O dulcissime Jesu,
O Jesu fili virginis Mariae plenus pietate
O dulcis Jesu
secundum magnam misericordiam tuam
miserere mei.
O clementissime Jesu
deprecor te per illum sanguinem pretiosum
quem pro peccatoribus effundere voluisti
ut abluas iniquitatem meam
et in me respicias
miserum et indignum peccatorem
et hoc nomen Jesum invocantem.
O nomen Jesu, nomen dulce, nomen Jesu,
nomen dilectabile, nomen Jesu, nomen suave,
quid enim est Jesus nisi salvator?
Ergo bone Jesu propter nomen tuum
salva me ne peream
et ne permittas me damnari
quem tu ex nihilo creasti.
O bone Jesu ne perdat me iniquitas mea.
Rogo te, piissime Jesu,
ne perdas me quem fecit tua bonitas.
O dulcis Jesu, recognosce quod tuum est
et absterge quod alienum est.
O amantissime Jesu, O desideratissime Jesu,
O mitissime Jesu, O Jesu,
admitte me intrare regnum tuum, dulcis Jesu.

English.png English translation

O good Jesus, O most holy Jesus, O most sweet Jesus,
O Jesus, son of the Virgin Mary, full of piety,
O sweet Jesus,
according to your great mercy
have mercy upon me.
O most compassionate Jesus
I beseech you by that precious blood
which you willingly shed for sinners
that you might wash away my wickedness
and look upon me
miserable and unworthy sinner
imploring this name of Jesus.
O name of Jesus, sweet name, name of Jesus,
beloved name, name of Jesus, sweet name,
for what is Jesus if not our saviour?
Therefore good Jesus through your name
save me that I shall not perish
and suffer me not to be damned
whom you created out of nothing.
O good Jesus, let not my sin destroy me.
I beg you, most holy Jesus,
forsake not me whom your love has made.
O sweet Jesus, accept what is yours
and reject that which offends you.
O most beloved Jesus, O most longed for Jesus,
O most gentle Jesus, O Jesus,
permit me to enter into your kingdom, sweet Jesus.