Da pacem

SSAA (divisi) a cappella + Soprano solo

YouTube credit: Vox Reflexa, conducted by Benjamin Geier; Shannon Love, soprano

Recording credit: Seattle Pro Musica, conducted by Karen P. Thomas; Ginger Ellingson, soprano, from their CD titled American Masterpieces

NOTE: The following score is in the original key signature of one sharp. An alternate version, transposed down one-half-step to six flats, is also available on the Order Form. {The recording above is of the original version in one sharp.)

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Da pacem, Domine, in diebus nostris
Quia non est alius
Nisi tu Deus noster.

Da pacem cordium.
Da pacem cordium.
Da pacem.
Da pacem.


Give peace, Lord, in our time
Because there is no one else
If not You, our God.

Give peace to every heart.
Give peace to every heart.
Give peace.
Give peace


When Karen Thomas, Artistic Director of Seattle Pro Musica, asked me to compose a work for their Women’s Schola, she stipulated that the work should be based on musical ideas from one or more of the three Bach motets on the same concert and that the text focus on the theme of peace. From the Bach motets I used several fragments of the familiar Jesu, meine Freude chorale from the motet of the same name. In addition, while searching for texts for the work, I found the simple liturgical text of the Da pacem, and I was immediately struck by its quality of timelessness, as well as its particular relevance for our own time.

As it happens, I also decided to use the corresponding Da Pacem chant in addition to Bach’s chorale tune. In the beginning of the work, the chant and chorale tune are divided between the women’s chorus and soprano soloist, respectively. Following the chorale-like passage in the middle, the women’s chorus takes up Bach’s chorale tune while the soloist sings variations of the Da Pacem chant. The plea for peace becomes increasingly more insistent until it reaches a climax with a series of desperate cries for peace, which resolve into a poignant, fragmented echo of the climax, finally ending unresolved, yet with the hope of peace that lies deep within all human hearts. The work is dedicated “to those who yearn for peace and those who have died to preserve it.”

NOTE: The key signature of the original version of Da pacem is one sharp. There is also an alternate version that has been transposed down ½-step to improve the vocal range, to aid intonation, and to move the work into the overall warmer key signature of six flats. At the same time, I revised a few of the dynamics and articulations and generally cleaned up the score. Those revisions are reflected in version in the original key as well. Aside from the change of key, there are not other differences between the two versions.