Deus tu conversus
is the Offertory at Mass on the Second Sunday of Advent. This five-voice setting comes from a cycle of Offertories published in Rome in two volumes late in Palestrina’s life by Francis Coates, in 1593, which contain some fine music in a polished and mature style exhibiting much rhythmic vivacity and unusual harmonic richness. The motet opens with a stately invocation, ‘Turn unto us, O God’, and quickly moves to cascades of running semiquavers at the words ‘and quicken us’. The next section uses dotted figures and vigorous rhythms to convey the sense of ‘and thy people shall rejoice’, but this is soon cut short by the opening of a slow-moving homophonic penitential passage (very similar to that in Canite tuba
) at the words ‘Show us thy mercy, O Lord’, which nonetheless comes to a strong finish at the words ‘and grant us thy salvation’. After a half-bar pause the whole of this final section is repeated and concludes the motet on a buoyant note.
from notes by Jon Dixon © 2003