This is an imposing twenty-five-part setting of the first five verses of Psalm 103, Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele
(‘Praise the Lord, my soul’). The glory of the musical setting indicates a special occasion. As the work is already mentioned in a music inventory from 1688, it was probably composed in the first decade of Schelle’s tenure as Thomaskantor. One event during this time was the thanksgiving on 16 September 1683, for victory over the Turkish army, which had besieged the imperial capital of Vienna for nine weeks. The Saxon electoral prince Johann Georg III had been involved in the liberation and had ordered a national celebration for his return to Dresden. One Leipzig chronicle reports that during the celebratory service in St Thomas, after the solemn official sermon, ‘a beautiful music’ was played—maybe this setting of the Psalm by Schelle. The alternating tutti and solo sections display a similarity with the Venetian Psalm settings of Johann Rosenmüller. Towards the end of the piece the first verse is repeated textually and musically, thereby creating a formal rounding off before the work closes with a concise Alleluia-fugue.
from notes by Peter Wollny © 2001
English: Viola Scheffel