Spem in alium

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General information

(Fifth Week of September, Matins Responsory; cf. Esther 14:19)

The Tallis motet is not the source for Palestrina's Missa Spem in alium, which was published almost contemporaneously in 1570. Palestrina's parody mass is based on a 4–part motet with a similar text, by Jacquet de Mantua, dating from 1539.

The source for the original Latin text is a respond in the Sarum liturgy. It is derived from Judith 8.19 and 6.19. The Book of Judith is included in the Septuagint, which was translated into Greek for the use of Hellenized Jews in Alexandria. The book is included in the Roman Catholic Old Testament, but relegated to the Apocrypha by Protestants.

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Text and translations

Latin.png Latin text

Spem in alium nunquam habui
præter in te, Deus Israël,
qui irasceris et propitius eris,
et omnia peccata hominum in tribulatione dimittis.
Domine Deus, Creator cæli et terræ,
respice humilitatem nostram.

Dutch.png Dutch translation

Mijn hoop is slechts
op U gesteld, God van Israel,
die toornig is en toch genade toont
en de zonden vergeeft
van mensen die lijden.
Heer God, schepper van hemel en aarde,
zie om naar ons in onze nederigheid.

English.png English translation

I have never put my hope
in any other but in You, God of Israel,
who will be angry and yet become again gracious,
and who forgives all the sins of man in suffering.
Lord God, Creator of heaven and earth,
look upon our lowliness.

German.png German translation

Ich habe niemals meine Hoffnung in irgendeinen
anderen als Dich gelegt, Gott Israels,
der du zornig sein und doch wieder gnädig werden wirst
und der du all die Sünden des leidenden Menschen vergibst.
Gott, unser Herr, Schöpfer von Himmel und Erde,
sieh an unsere Niedrigkeit.

Polish.png Polish translation

Translation by Jerzy Sosnowski
Nie złożyłem mej nadziei w nikim
jak tylko w Tobie, Boże Izraela,
który możesz okazać zarówno gniew jak litość
i odpuścić winy cierpiącemu człowiekowi.
Panie Boże, stworzycielu nieba i ziemi,
wejrzyj na naszą słabość.

Portuguese.png Portuguese translation

Em ninguém coloquei minha esperança,
senão em Ti, Deus de Israel,
que mostra sua ira mas também sua doçura
e perdoa os pecados daqueles que sofrem
Senhor Deus, Criador dos céus e da terra,
sê misericordioso a nossa insignificância.

English.png English translation

I have never had hope in another,
save in thee, O God of Israel;
who art angry and wilt again show mercy,
and who forgivest all the sins of men
when they are in affliction.
O Lord God, maker of heaven and earth,
look upon our lowliness.
Translation by St Ann choir