The original words of In dulci jubilo
were a mixture of German and Latin and they have been translated a number of times from the fifteenth century onwards. Robert Lucas de Pearsall (1795–1856) was an educated English gentleman who studied law and became involved with music only when he moved to Germany in 1825. Thereafter he remained abroad, bought a castle by Lake Constance, and wrote madrigals in sixteenth-century style and partsongs like O who will o’er the downs so free?
He added the ‘de’ to his name presumably as an affectation. A considerable linguist, he published English translations of Schiller and Goethe. His free, and imaginative, setting of In dulci jubilo
, for unaccompanied double choir, is masterly in its treatment of the fourteenth-century German tune and in its constant variations of texture.
from notes by Wadham Sutton © 1993