Hodie (Vaughan Williams)

Hodie (Vaughan Williams)


Hodie (Ce Jour) est une cantate écrite par Ralph Vaughan Williams entre 1953 et 1954.

C'est l'une des dernières compositions majeures du musicien pour chœurs. La création en a été faite à la cathédrale de Worcester, au cours du Festival des trois chœurs, le 8 septembre 1954. Cette œuvre est dédicacée à Herbert Howells. Elle comprend 16 mouvements et a été écrite pour ténor, baryton et soprano, chœurs, voix de garçons, orgue et orchestre. Son exécution demande environ une heure.



Au niveau style, Hodie représente une synthèse de la carrière artistique de Vaughan Williams. Il en a déjà expérimenté la forme cantate religieuse dans son Dona nobis pacem. Plusieurs mouvements semblent inspirés d'œuvres antérieures : par exemple, l'accompagnement de l'hymne est très proche de sa Sinfonia antartica, tandis que la « Pastorale » comporte des similitudes avec certains des éléments de ses Cinq chants mystiques (1911).

La cohérence de l'œuvre est renforcée par l'utilisation de deux ou trois thèmes présents le long de la partition. L'un de ceux ci est entendu pour la première fois sur le Gloria du premier mouvement et peut être entendu à chaque fois que ce mot est répété. Un autre thème, introduit dans la première narration, réapparaît au début de l'épilogue. De plus, le chant final sur le texte de Milton utilise la même mélodie que le premier chant pour soprano, bien qu'orchestré différemment.

L'œuvre au concert

Hodie n'est pas l'une des œuvres les plus populaires de Vaughan Williams et est sensiblement moins jouée que d'autres partitions du même compositeur. Il en existe toutefois plusieurs enregistrements


Hodie a une forme proches des Passions de Johann Sebastian Bach, que Vaughan Williams admirait grandement.

I: Prologue

La cantate s'ouvre avec une fanfares joyeuse, rapidement suivie par des "Nowell!" (Noël) poussés par le chœur entier. Cela permet d'introduire les Vêpres de Noël, seul texte de l'œuvre qui n'est pas en anglais.

Texte en latin:

Nowell! Nowell! Nowell!
Hodie Christus natus est: hodie salvator apparuit:
Hodie in terra canunt angeli, laetantur archangeli:
Hodie exultant justi, dicentes: gloria in excelsis Deo: Alleluia.


Noël ! Noël! Noël!
Aujourd'hui, le Christ est né. Aujourd'hui le Sauveur paraît
Aujourd'hui les Anges chantent sur terre, joie des archanges
Aujourd'hui les réjouissances : Gloire à Dieu le très Haut

La diction du texte chanté est simple, à part pour l' "Alleluia" final qui comporte beaucoup d'irrégularités rythmiques.

II: Narration

Elle est écrite pour orgue et chœur de garçons. Les textes sont extraits de l' évangile selon Matthieu (1:18-21 et 23) et l'évangile selon Luc (1:32).

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was in this wise: when as his mother
Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was
found with child of the Holy Ghost.
Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, was minded to put her
away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the
angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream.
"Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife:
for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she
shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS."

The full chorus joins the soloist in the final part of the passage:

"He shall be great; and shall be called the Son of the Highest:
Emmanuel, God with us."

III: Song

Le troisième mouvement est un chant pour soprano sur un poème de John Milton, "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity" (Au matin de la nativité du Christ):

It was the Winter wild,
While the Heaven-born child,
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
Nature in awe to him
Had doffed her gaudy trim,
With her great Master so to sympathize:
And waving wide her myrtle wand,
She strikes a universal Peace through Sea and Land.
No war or battle's sound
Was heard the world around,
The idle spear and shield were high up hung;
The hookèd Chariot stood
Unstained with hostile blood,
The Trumpet spake not to the armèd throng,
And Kings sate still with aweful eye,
As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by.
But peaceful was the night
Wherein the Prince of light
His reign of peace upon the earth began:
The winds, with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kissed,
Whispering new joys to the mild Ocean,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmèd wave.

The women of the chorus join the soloist for portions of the last verse.

IV: Narration

Le texte est extrait de l'évangile selon Luc (2:1-7):

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from
Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. And all went to be
taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up into the
city of David, which is called Bethlehem; to be taxed with Mary his
espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished
that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son,
and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because
there was no room for them in the inn.

V: Choral

Ce "choral" est l'un des deux que comporte la cantate. Il est écrit pour chœurs non accompagnés sur un texte de Martin Luther traduit par Miles Coverdale :

The blessed son of God only
In a crib full poor did lie;
With our poor flesh and our poor blood
Was clothed that everlasting good.
The Lord Christ Jesu, God's son dear,
Was a guest and a stranger here;
Us for to bring from misery,
That we might live eternally.
All this did he for us freely,
For to declare his great mercy;
All Christendom be merry therefore,
And give him thanks for evermore.

VI: Narration

Le texte est extrait de l'évangile selon Saint-Luc (2:8-17) et du Livre de la prière commune (livre de prière de la tradiation anglicane), est introduit les bergers:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field,
keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of
the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round
about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto
"Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in
the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this
shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in
swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the
heavenly host praising God, and saying:
"Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will
toward men. We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee, we
glorify thee, we give thee thanks for thy great glory, O Lord
God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty."
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them
into heaven, the shepherds said one to another,
"Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which
is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us."
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the
babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made
known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were
told them by the shepherds.

A nouveau, le ténor chante la voix de l'Ange, le chœur, introduit par la sopano, chante les paroles de l'hôte divin, et le chœur d'hommes les bergers.

VII: Song

Ce mouvement est chanté par un soliste baryton. L'introduction instrumentale est faite par les bois. Le texte est "The Oxen" de Thomas Hardy:

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
"Now they are all on their knees,"
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.
We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.
So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
"Come; see the oxen kneel,
In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,"
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

VII: Narration

Il est extrait de l'évangile selon Saint-Luc (2:20):

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God
for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was
told unto them.
"Glory to God in the highest."

IX: Pastoral

Elle est écrite pour un baryton sur un poème de George Herbert:

The shepherds sing; and shall I silent be?
My God, no hymn for Thee?
My soul's a shepherd too; a flock it feeds
Of thoughts, and words, and deeds.
The pasture is Thy word: the streams, Thy grace
Enriching all the place.
Shepherd and flock shall sing, and all my powers
Outsing the daylight hours.
Then will we chide the sun for letting night
Take up his place and right:
We sing one common Lord; wherefore he should
Himself the candle hold.
I will go searching, till I find a sun
Shall stay, till we have done;
A willing shiner, that shall shine as gladly,
As frost-nipped suns look sadly.
Then will we sing, and shine all our own day,
And one another pay:
His beams shall cheer my breast, and both so twine,
Till ev'n His beams sing, and my music shine.

X: Narration

Elle repose sur un texte de l'évangile selon Saint-Luc (2:19):

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her own heart.

XI: Lullaby

Ecrit pour soprano et chœur de femmes, cette partie est basée sur un texte anonyme qu'a également repris le compositeur Benjamin Britten:

Sweet was the song the Virgin sang,
When she to Bethlem Juda came
And was delivered of a Son,
That blessed Jesus hath to name:
"Lulla, lulla, lulla-bye,
Sweet Babe," sang she,
And rocked him sweetly on her knee.
"Sweet Babe," sang she, "my son,
And eke a Saviour born,
Who hath vouchsafèd from on high
To visit us that were forlorn:
"Lalula, lalula, lalula-bye,
Sweet Babe," sang she,
And rocked him sweetly on her knee.

XII: Hymn

L'hymne est la seule partie consacrée au ténor solo de la cantate. Il semble que cela soit un ajout du musicien par rapport à la partition initiale, le ténor qui devait le créer s'étant plaint de la faiblesse de sa partie. Le texte, Christmas Day" est un poème de William Drummond:

Bright portals of the sky,
Emboss'd with sparkling stars,
Doors of eternity,
With diamantine bars,
Your arras rich uphold,
Loose all your bolts and springs,
Ope wide your leaves of gold,
That in your roofs may come the King of Kings.
O well-spring of this All!
Thy Father's image vive;
Word, that from nought did call
What is, doth reason, live;
The soul's eternal food,
Earth's joy, delight of heaven;
All truth, love, beauty, good:
To thee, to thee be praises ever given!
O glory of the heaven!
O sole delight of earth!
To thee all power be given,
God's uncreated birth!
Of mankind lover true,
Indearer of his wrong,
Who doth the world renew,
Still be thou our salvation and our song!

Ce mouvement est écrit dans un style brillant pour l'orchestre et débute par une fanfare.

XIII: Narration

Elle est adaptée d'un extrait de l'évangile selon Saint-Matthieu (2:1-11):

Now when Jesus was born, behold there came wise men from the east,
saying, "Where is he that is born King? for we have seen his star in
the east, and are come to worship him." And they said unto them,
"In Bethlehem." When they had heard that, they departed; and, lo,
the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came
and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star,
they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into
the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell
down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures,
they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

Les voix des Rois sont celles du chœur d'hommes.

XIV: The March of the Three Kings

La marche des trois Rois représente le premier mouvement où solistes, chœurs et orchestre jouent de concert. Il débute par un chœur sur un texte écrit par la femme du compositeur. Chaque soliste chante ensuite une partie représentant un roi-mage et son cadeau, avant de chanter en unisson pour terminer par une marche[1]

XV: Choral

Le texte du second choral provient d'un poème anonyme. Le second verset est également écrit par la femme du compositeur. :

No sad thought his soul affright,
Sleep it is that maketh night;
Let no murmur nor rude wind
To his slumbers prove unkind:
But a quire of angels make
His dreams of heaven, and let him wake
To as many joys as can
In this world befall a man.


XVI: Epilogue

L'épilogue s'ouvre par les trois solistes chantant un texte extrait de l'évangile selon Jean (1:1, 4, et 14), et selon Saint-Matthieu (1:23) :

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God. In him was life; and the life was the
light of men. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among
us, full of grace and truth. Emmanuel, God with us.

Le chœur se joint aux solistes sur les derniers mots. La partition s'achève sur un poème adapté de Milton, "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity" (au matin de la naissance du Christ:

Ring out, ye crystal spheres,
Once bless our human ears,
If ye have power to touch our senses so;
And let your silver chime
Move in melodious time,
And let the bass of heaven's deep organ blow;
And with your ninefold harmony
Make up full consort to the angelic symphony.
Such music (as 'tis said)
Before was never made,
But when of old the sons of morning sung,
While the Creator great
His constellations set,
And the well-balanced world on hinges hung,
And cast the dark foundations deep,
And bid the weltering waves their oozy channel keep.
Yea, truth and justice then
Will down return to men,
Orbed in a rainbow; and, like glories wearing,
Mercy will sit between,
Throned in celestial sheen,
With radiant feet the tissued clouds down steering;
And heaven, as at some festival,
Will open wide the gates of her high palace hall.


Ralph Vaughan Williams, Fantasia on Christmas Carols/Hodie. David Willcocks et al. Recorded 1965/66, released 2000.


  1. Le texte de ce mouvement reste sous copyright.
  2. Le texte du second verset est sous copyright.
  • Portail de la musique classique Portail de la musique classique
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