Dulcis amor (Sweet Love)


tenor & baritone soli, TTBB choir, optional harp

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Harvard University Glee Club

Harvard Glee Club
Jameson Marvin, director

Harvard University Glee Club (Naxos)
The Princeton Singers on "I Have Had Singing" (Arsis)
Steven Sametz, director
with John Aler, tenor, and Elem Eley, baritone
Rutgers Glee Club, Patrick Gardner, director (Youtube)

ECS #7272, (T & Bar soli, TTBB [divisi], opt. harp)
–Harp part, ECS #7273

Program Notes

Dulcis amor was commissioned as part of The Harvard Glee Club’s sesquicentennial. I was particularly happy to fulfill this commission, as I had conducted the Harvard Glee Club in 1984 during one of Jameson Marvin’s sabbaticals.

The Latin text is by the 8th-century teacher and cleric, Alcuin of York. Alcuin was born in England and traveled to the continent, ultimately finding a position at the court of Charlemagne where he served as librarian and tutor to Charlemagne’s two sons. He established many schools and was known as a “teacher of teachers.” Alcuin codified Carolingian minuscule script and wrote elementary texts on arithmetic, geometry and astronomy. Through his teaching, Alcuin lay the groundwork for what would later become known as the Renaissance in Europe.

Alcuin left many letters, and the text of Dulcis amor is drawn from one of these. Alcuin’s heartfelt line, “Rare the faithfulness among friends which creates dear friends,” speaks to that communal spirit found in choral singing. Dulcis amor is the second in the set Amo! It may be performed separately a cappella or with harp.

Text / translation

Dulcis amor (Sweet Love)

Dulcis amor lacrimis absentem plangit amicum
quem longinqua negat terra videre oculis.
Rara fides hominum caros effecit amicos,
milia multa cient, pectore solus erit.
Argento melior, fulvo pretiosior auro,
omnibus et gazis clarior iste nitet,
quem cupit et quaerit mentis sibi tota voluntas
ut habeat, teneat, diligat atque colat.
Iste eris ecce mihi magno coniunctus amore,
tu requies mentis, tu mihi dulcis amor.
Te deus aeterno conservat tempore semper,
tu me memor semper ubique vale

–Alcuin of York (735-804)


Sweet love weeps tears for absent love,
Long distant land denies my eyes sight of him.
Rare the faithfulness among men which creates dear friends
Innumerable those who cry, the heart remains alone.
Better than silver, more precious than yellow gold,
All this and royal treasure are nothing compared to this one
Who is coveted and sought for by the heart with its whole desiring
So that it may have, hold, esteem, and care for him.
This is therefore my great bond of love,
You are the quiet of the heart, you my sweet love.
May God protect you through all time;
Remember me always wheresoever you go, farewell.