This famous anonymous sixteenth century lyric utters Christ’s reproaches to his persecutors, and by implication to the entirety of humankind.
The original is long. I have set only three stanzas, moving from graphic presentation of the physical humiliations to the general reproach, that the fallen race has not kept its side of the bargain with its saviour.
In the third stanza the image of his naked body clad only in its blood and bruises modulates into an invitation to clothe festively for entry to the saviour’s "high empire above the orient", before a final call to remember the state of your soul, and a renewed return of the gaunt, desolate refrain.
This setting was commissioned by the BBC as part of the 75th anniversary season of the BBC Singers, in 1999.
Robin Holloway, 1999
This programme note can be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer