Dum transisset Sabbatum (Robert Johnson)

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  • CPDL #15931:        (Sibelius 5)
Editor: Jonathan Goodliffe (submitted 2008-02-08).   Score information: A4, 5 pages, 59 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: The value of notes is halved. Corrected version uploaded 2010-02-22. Thanks to Mick Swithinbank and Simona Nass for corrections and suggestions. MusicXML source file is in compressed .mxl format.

General Information

Title: Dum transisset Sabbatum
Composer: Robert Johnson
Source of text: Mark 16:1

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

Language: Latin
Instruments: A cappella

Published: c.1580 (Dow)/1776 (Burney)

Description: From a manuscript in the library of Christ Church, Oxford. The soprano and alto parts are attributed in the manuscript to “Mr Johnson”. The baritone part is attributed to “Tallis alias Johnson”. In the manuscript this part is written in plainchant notation. Slurs in this edition represent ligatures in the original plainchant. The work was published by Charles Burney in his “General History of Music” in 1776 with many changes to reduce dissonances and adapt the work to 18th Century taste.

In a complete performance, the plainsong intonation and entire polyphony were probably intended to be sung first. Then the plainsong verse Et valde mane; Then the polyphony from Ut venientes to the end. Then the plainsong Gloria patri. Finally the polyphonic Alleluia.

In the original manuscript “Alleluia” is written out “Al-le-lui-a”.

There are a number of differences in published versions of (i) the plainsong intonation, (ii) the Et valde mane and (iii) the Gloria patri sections. These sections are not included in the manuscript source for this edition of the Johnson five part setting.

The three last notes in the intonation, usually sung “sse – e - et”, are sometimes replaced by a single long note in, for instance, published editions of Tallis’ 5 part setting of “Dum Transisset”.

There are a variety of different interpretations of the Et valde mane and the Gloria patri plainsong sections. Examples are included in the CPDL edition of the Taverner setting by Rupert Preston Bell, the edition of the Tallis setting by JJ Hutchings on Sibelius Music, the edition of the same Tallis setting by Richard Abram, published in “Musical Times”, February 1979, and the performance on CD of the Johnson four and five part settings by Cappella Nova (directed by Alan Tavener).

External websites:

Original text and translations

Original text and translations may be found at Dum transisset Sabbatum.