At St Mark’s, ‘Memento Domine David’ (Psalm 131, or, in the Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 132) was sung at Vespers on a number of important feast days during the year, beginning with second Vespers on Christmas Day. For almost all these occasions the Pala d’Oro was opened and double-choir psalms sung in two choirs. In this setting of a long psalm text, Monteverdi comes closer than he does in the eight-part setting of ‘Dixit Dominus’ to the style of simple double-choir chanting that characterizes many St Mark’s psalm settings. Even so, he takes the opportunity to underline the rhetorical force of words such as ‘Ecce’ (‘behold’ – verse 6) and ‘in saeculum saeculi’ (‘for ever and ever’ – verse 14) by tossing them from one choir to the other, or ‘exsultatione exsultabunt’ (‘rejoice with exceeding great joy’ – verse 16) by setting them in triple time.
from notes by John Whenham © 2004