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Sicut Cervus

Tract for Holy Saturday

Sicut Cervus (“As the stag”) is the tract sung during the Blessing of the Font on Holy Saturday, and is based on Psalm 22:2-4.

Dom Guéranger explains the chant: "The procession is by torch-light. The stars are brightly shining in the canopy of heaven, and the air resounds with the melodious chanting. They are singing those verses of the Psalm, in which David compares his soul’s pining after hir God to the panting of a stag that thirsts for a fount of water. The stag, an image of which is in the font, is a figure of the catechumen for Baptism.” (1)

The version below is the famous motet composed by Palestrina, one of the Counter-Reformation’s foremost composers. According to one record label, this motet “is now one of Palestrina's most anthologized works and regarded as a model of Renaissance polyphony.”

Sicut Cervus is here interpreted by New York Polyphony.

Listen to Sicut Cervus


Latin text

Sicut cervus desiderat ad fontes aquarum:
Ita desiderat anima mea ad te, Deus.
V. Sitivit anima mea ad Deum vivum:
Quando veniam et apparabo
Ante faciem Dei mei?
V. Fuerunt mihi lacrimae
Meae panes die ac nocte,
Dum dicitur mihi per singulos dies:
Ubi est Deus tuus?

English translation:

As the stag goes after the foundains of water,
So my soul goes after Thee, Oh God.
V. My soul has thirsted after the living God:
When shall I come and appear
Before the face of my God?
V. My tears have been
Like my bread day and night,
While it is said to me daily:
Where is thy God?

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Dominus Jesus

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  1. Dom Guéranger, The Liturgical Year, Loreto Publications, 2000, vol. 6, p. 607.

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