Marianne Moore: Poetry

January 15, 2012

“Melchior Vulpius”

“Melchoir Vulpius,” Atlantic Monthly 201 (January 1958), 59.

Choir at Cologne Cathedral singing the anthem “Now God Be Praised in Heav’n Above” in German

Moore attended the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church while she lived in Brooklyn. She made notes from a Sunday church bulletin for June 30, 1957 which contained an anthem by Melchior Vulpius, a German composer (c. 1560?-1615). She copied the text of the anthem into a notebook, placing the second verse first, followed by the first and third, thus:

Now God be praised for conquering faith,

Which feareth neither pain nor death,

But trusting God, rejoicing saith,

Hallelujah!

Now God be praised in heaven above

Praised be He for His great love,

Wherein all creatures live and move,

Hallelujah!

His grace defends us from all ill;

His Christ shall be our leader still

Till heaven and earth shall do His will,

Hallelujah!

According to a notebook (for which she used a 1956 calendar), Moore also consulted Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, probably the fourth edition (New York: G. Schirmer, 1940) which contains an entry on Melchior Vulpius on page 1144, giving several elements she noted: born in Wasungen, died at Weimar where he was a cantor from 1596, published two books of Cantiones sacrae as well as Lateinische Hochzeitstücke or the “wedding-hymns to Latin words” of the poem.

For an interpretation of the poem, please see Kirby Olson’s website:

http://lutheransurrealism.blogspot.com/2009/09/melchior-vulpius-by-marianne-moore.html

Blog at WordPress.com.