Nigra sum sed formosa

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Works with this title quote several different selections of words from the Song of Songs, (with additional text in italics), used in devotions for the Virgin Mary.

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Text and translations

Lhéritier's text

Latin.png Latin text

1:4a  Nigra sum sed formosa filiae Jherusalem
Ideo dilexit me rex et introduxit me in cubiculum suum.

Dutch.png Dutch translation

1:4a  Ik ben zwart, maar bekoorlijk, dochters van Jeruzalem.
Daarom heeft de koning me uitverkoren, en me in zijn kamer binnengeleid.

English.png English translation

1:4a  I am black but comely, daughters of Jerusalem,
Therefore have I pleased the Lord and he hath brought me into his chamber.

Leoni's text

Latin.png Latin text

1:4a  Nigra sum sed formosa filiae Hierusalem,
Ideo dilexit me rex, et introduxit me in cubiculum suum, et dixit mihi:
2:10b  Surge, amica mea et veni,
2:14b  Ostende mihi faciem tuam, sonet vox tua in auribus meis, vox enim tua dulcis, et facies tua decora.

English.png English translation

1:4a  I am black but comely, O daughters of Jerusalem,
therefore have I pleased the Lord, and he hath brought me into his chamber, and hath said unto me:
2:10b  Arise my love, my fair one, and come away,
2:14b  Let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice, for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance comely.

Monteverdi's text

Latin.png Latin text

1:4a  Nigra sum sed formosa filia Jerusalem
Ideo dilexit me Dominus et introduxit in cubiculum suum et dixit mihi:
2:10b  Surge amica mea et veni.
2:11  Jam hiems transiit, imber abiit et recessit,
2:12a  Flores apparuerunt in terra nostra, tempus putationis advenit.

Dutch.png Dutch translation

1:4a  Ik ben zwart, maar bekoorlijk, dochters van Jeruzalem,
Daarom beviel ik de Heer, die me in zijn kamer binnenbracht en me zei:
2:10b  'Sta op, mijn geliefde, en kom,
2:11  Want de winter is voorbij, het regent niet langer,
2:12a  De bloemen zijn verschenen op het veld, nu is het tijd om te snoeien.

English.png English translation

1:4a  I am a dark-skinned but comely daughter of Jerusalem,
Therefore have I pleased the Lord and he has brought me into his chamber and said to me:
2:10b  Arise my love and come.
2:11  For now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone,
2:12a  The flowers have appeared in our land, the time of pruning is come.

French.png French translation

1:4a  Je suis noire mais je suis belle, filles de Jerusalem.
Aussi le roi m'a-t-il aimée et conduite dans ses appartements, et il m'a dit:
2:10b  « Lève-toi, mon amie, et viens.
2:11  L'hiver enfin s'en est allé, la pluie nous quitte et s'éloigne,
2:12a  Les fleurs ont fait leur apparition sur la terre. Le temps de la taille est venu ».

Palestrina's text

Latin.png Latin text

1:4  Nigra sum sed formosa filiae Jerusalem, sicut tabernacula Cedar,
sicut pelles Salomonis.
1:5a  Nolite me considerare quod fusca sim, quia decoloravit me sol. Filii matris meae pugnaverunt contra me, posuerunt me custodem in vineis.

Dutch.png Dutch translation

1:4  Ik ben zwart, maar bekoorlijk, dochters van Jeruzalem, zwart als de tenten van Kedar,
als het doek van Salomo's tenten.
1:5a  Maar denk niet dat ik zwart ben, mijn huid werd verkleurd door de zon. De zonen van m'n moeder hebben tegen me gestreden, lieten me de wijngaarden bewaken.

English.png English translation

1:4  I am black but beautiful, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Cedar,
like the curtains of Solomon.
1:5a  Do not think that I am dark, for the sun has changed my colour. My mother's sons fought against me; they made me keeper of the vineyards.

Dutch.png Dutch translation

[Zij:]
Zwart ben ik, maar bekoorlijk, meisjes van Jeruzalem,
als de tenten van Kedar,
als de tentdoeken van Salomon.
Kijk niet op me neer omdat ik donker ben,
want de zon heeft mij gebruind.
De zonen van mijn moeder waren boos op mij,
zij stuurden mij weg om hun wijngaarden te bewaken.

Translation by Anton Hendriks, Ben Terstegge & Hanneke Pot

Praetorius's text

Latin.png Latin text

1:4a  Nigra sum, sed formosa, o filiae Hierusalem;
1:5  nolite me considerare quod sum sub nigra
quia me coloravit sol:
1:6  Indica mihi, quem diligit anima mea, ubi pascas ubi cubes in meridie, ne vagari incipiam post greges sodalium tuorum.

English.png English translation

1:4a  Dark am I, yet lovely, daughters of Jerusalem,
1:5  Do not stare at me because I am dark, for the sun has altered my colour.
1:6  Tell me, you whom I love, where you graze your flock and where you rest at midday, lest I begin to wander after the flocks of your companions.

Victoria's text

In this setting the Biblical plural 'filiae' is replaced with the singular: this can also be found in some Gregorian-chant sources and is not a misprint. At the same time, it replaces a vocative with a nominative and designates the Virgin Mary herself as a daughter of Jerusalem.

Latin.png Latin text

1:4a  Nigra sum sed formosa filia Jerusalem
Ideo dilexit me Dominus et introduxit me in cubiculum suum et dixit mihi:
2:10b  surge amica mea… et veni.
2:11  Jam hiems transiit, imber abiit et recessit,
2:12a  Flores apparuerunt in terra nostra, tempus putationis advenit.

Dutch.png Dutch translation

1:4a  Ik ben zwart, maar bekoorlijk, dochter van Jeruzalem,
Daarom heeft de Heer me uitverkoren en me in zijn kamer binnengeleid en hij sprak tot mij:
2:10b  'Sta op, mijn geliefde, en kom,
2:11  want de winter is voorbij, het regent niet langer,
2:12a  de bloemen zijn verschenen op het veld, nu is de tijd gekomen om te snoeien.

English.png English translation

1:4a  I am a dark-skinned but comely daughter of Jerusalem,
Therefore have I pleased the Lord and he has brought me into his chamber and said to me:
2:10b  arise my love and come.
2:11  For now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone,
2:12a  The flowers have appeared in our land; the time of pruning is come.

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