This is one of the most tightly drawn of the psalm settings in the Selva morale, consisting as it does of little more than two blocks of musical material. And it is a setting in which Monteverdi takes liberties with the text in order to produce a clearly audible refrain structure. Section A is formed by the music of the opening duet for tenors, in which Monteverdi sets only the first half of the verse before moving on to set verse 2 as a triple-time, aria-like section [B] for sopranos and violins. The A and B sections are then alternated, with A remaining recognizably the same while B evolves gradually through the course of the setting. The steady progress of this musical structure is interrupted only at verse 6, where the text turns aside from praising God to declaiming the news that he rescues the poor and needy, and then again at the beginning of the Gloria, which Monteverdi begins with a tenor duet in ornamented style. This soon shades off, however, into final statements of A and B, with A reintroducing the words ‘Laudate pueri Dominum’ and B allotted the text ‘Semper et in saeculorum’.
from notes by John Whenham © 2003