The text of Quare tristis es, anima mea?
(‘Why are you cast down, O my soul?’—words from Psalm 42) is intended to be reassuring, but Regnart’s setting begins in a highly destabilized tonality, avoiding a full cadence for the first fifteen bars. When the piece does settle down, it nevertheless remains in an anxious Phrygian tonal area, associated with lamenting. Regnart evidently wished to emphasize the heaviness of the soul rather than the comfort of God in this case.
from notes by Stephen Rice © 2007