Aux ballons, citoyens!

As for me and my household, tonight we are supporting France (or, to be precise, the incomparable Zinedine Zidane).

This morning, the BBC’s “Broadcasting House” programme included a hilarious item in which the conductor Charles Hazelwood shared some musical insights about the French national anthem (RealAudio stream; item starts at 25m 56s). I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to listen to La Marseillaise in quite the same way again, after Hazelwood’s description of its “priapic” qualities, its gradual build-up to the “point of ultimate resolution, shall we say, between a pair of lovers, between a country and its sense of nationhood”. Easy, tiger!

In honour of the occasion, at church this morning I played, not the Marseillaise itself, but “the Marseillaise of the Camisards“, the Huguenot battle hymn: Matthäus Greiter’s setting of Psalm 68 from the Genevan Psalter:

Que Dieu se montre seulement
Et on verra soudainement
Abandonner la place
Le camp des ennemis épars
Et les haineux de toutes parts
Fuïr devant sa face
Dieu les fera tous enfuïr
Ainsi qu’on voit s’évanouïr
Un amas de fumée
Comme la cire auprès du feu
Ainsi des méchans devant Dieu
La force est consumée

Cependant devant le Seigneur
Les justes chantent son honneur
En toute éjouissance
Et de la grand’ joye qu’ils ont
De voir les méchans qui s’en vont
Sautent à grand’ puissance
Chantez du Seigneur le renom
Psalmodiez, louez son nom
Et sa gloire immortelle
Car sur la nuë il est porté
Et d’un nom plein de majesté
L’Eternel il s’appelle

Réjouissez-vous devant lui
Qui est des pauvres sans appui
Le père debonnaire
Qui le droict des vefues soustient
Devant Dieu, dis-je, qui se tient
En son saint sanctuaire
Dieu fait avoir pleine maison
A ceux qui ont longue saison
Sans nuls enfin sofferte
Délivre les siens enferrez
Tient les rebelles enferrez
En leur terre deserte

A MIDI version of the tune can be heard here (from this Dutch site giving tunes for the entire Genevan Psalter).

Here is an English translation of the first verse (the full version is here):

God shall arise, and by His might
Put all His enemies to flight;
In conquest shall He quell them.
Let those who hate Him, scattered, flee
Before His glorious majesty,
For God Himself shall fell them.
Just as the wind drives smoke away,
So God will scatter the array
Of those who evil cherish.
As wax that melts before the fire,
So, vanquished by God’s dreadful ire,
Shall all the wicked perish.

That is taken from the Canadian Reformed Church’s Book of Praise, which includes the full Genevan Psalter complete with tunes (large PDF file).

For more information about the Genevan Psalter, Credenda Agenda did a three-part history (1 | 2 | 3), as well as an article on Claude Goudimel, who wrote many of the tunes for the psalter.

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