Sicut Cervus was written for the Kiitos Vocal Ensemble who premiered it on a concert at St. John’s Church in Greenwich Village in New York City.
The text is the much beloved “So pants the hart…” from Psalm 42 in the Bible, the central theme within these beautiful words being the longing of the soul to unite with God and the age old feeling of restlessness - a longing for that which will fulfill.
I chose to set this in Latin because the simple flow of that language prescribes a particular kind of music to me, helping me to express this longing in a clear concise and unflowery way.
The unsettled harmonies in my piece help to propel it forward in restless sections, some times murmuring and sometimes loudly stating the unrest. The rhythmic moving passage in the bass starting in measure 44 indicates more urgency in the emotional context of the conflict ie. “WHEN shall I be united with God?”
The final recapitulation is a bit quieter and slower indicating a certain resignation toward the lack of wholeness and a willingness to wait for that moment when we will find the fullness that we seek.
Sicut cervus desiderat ad fontes aquarum:
ita desiderat anima mea ad te, Deus.
Sitivit anima mea ad Deum vivum:
quando veniam et apparebo ante faciem Dei mei?
Fuerunt mihi lacrymae meae panes die ac nocte,
dum dicitur mihi quotidie:
Ubi est Deus tuus?
As the hart yearns for the water springs
so longs my soul for Thee, O God.
My soul has thirsted for the living God,
When shall I come and appear before his presence?
My tears have been my bread by day and also by night,
while it is said to me daily:
Where is your God?