Capricornus: Jubilus BernhardiACRONYM/Donald Meineke/The Bach Choir of Holy Trinity

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Baroque string band ACRONYM teams up with Donald Meineke and the Bach Choir of Holy Trinity—an ensemble known for a half-century of riveting early-music performances in New York City—for the first recording of Capricornus's monumental Jubilus Bernhardi.


# Audio Title/Composer(s) Performer(s) Time
Total Time 109:59

Jubilus Bernhardi

01Jesu dulcis memoria
Jesu dulcis memoria
02Jesu, spes pœnitentibus
Jesu, spes pœnitentibus
03Jesu, dulcedo Cordium
Jesu, dulcedo Cordium
04Jesum quaeram in lectulo
Jesum quaeram in lectulo
05Cum Maria diluculo
Cum Maria diluculo
06Jesu, Rex admirabilis
Jesu, Rex admirabilis
07Mane nobiscum Domine
Mane nobiscum Domine
08Amor Jesu, dulcissimus
Amor Jesu, dulcissimus
09Jesum omnes agnoscite
Jesum omnes agnoscite
10Jesus, auctor clementiae
Jesus, auctor clementiae
11Jesu, mi bone, sentiam
Jesu, mi bone, sentiam
12Tua, Jesu, dilectio
Tua, Jesu, dilectio
13Jesu, decus Angelicum
Jesu, decus Angelicum
14Amor tuus continuus
Amor tuus continuus
15Jesu, summa benignitas
Jesu, summa benignitas
16O Jesu, mi dulcissime
O Jesu, mi dulcissime
17Jesus cum sic diligitur
Jesus cum sic diligitur
18O beatum incendium
O beatum incendium
19Jesu, flos matris Virginis
Jesu, flos matris Virginis
20Jesu, sole serenior
Jesu, sole serenior
21Mi dilecte revertere
Mi dilecte revertere
22Coeli cives, occurrite
Coeli cives, occurrite
23Rex virtutum
Rex virtutum
24Jesus in pace imperat
Jesus in pace imperat

Precious little is known for certain about the composer Samuel Capricornus; like Purcell and Mozart, he died at a tragically young age, and yet his prodigious output demonstrates what a wealth of talent and invention he had. Born the son of a Lutheran pastor in what today is the Czech Republic, he Latinized his name according to a common habit at the time, and he was fortunate enough to work at the imperial chapel in Vienna under two of the leading Italians of the age, Giovanni Valentini and Antonio Bertali. Capricornus's setting in 24 parts of the Jubilus Bernhardi was published halfway through his tenure as Kapellmeister to the court in Stuttgart in 1660. Scored for five soloists, five ripieno vocal parts and a consort of violas da gamba with continuo, it is a glorious demonstration of every facet of the composer's craft: the short introductory sinfonias that set the tone, the careful juxtaposition of solo voices and tutti sections, the skilful balancing of voices and instruments, the minutely observed rhythms of the word setting, and—above all—the overarching structural sense. Even in such a grand design, the music remains ever-changing like light shining on a diamond, yet profoundly uplifting and moving by turn.

  • Recorded September 8-11, 2016, at Oktaven Audio
  • Engineered, Produced, and Mastered by Ryan Streber
  • Edited by Kivie Cahn-Lipman, Loren Ludwig, and Ryan Streber
  • Design by Lee Ryder
  • Notes and modern edition by Brian Clark for Prima la musica! and Cornetto-Verlag
  • English translation by Dr. Helen Deeming
  • Special thanks to Brian Clark, The Rev. Wilbert S. Miller, The Bach Foundation of Holy Trinity, Linda Cahn, Paul Marshall, Diana Langer Marcus, Dan Lippel, Marc Wolf, and Lee Ryder.


Baroque string ensemble ACRONYM is dedicated to giving modern premieres of the wild instrumental music of the seventeenth century. The group formed in 2012 to create the first recording of the "Alphabet Sonatas" of Johann Pezel. ACRONYM's following disc, sonatas by Antonio Bertali, was released in 2014 to critical acclaim; Alex Ross selected it as a CD pick, and Early Music America Magazine wrote "the idiomatic performances and spacious recording by these young musicians are absolutely first rate. This is a disc ... belonging in everyone's collection." In 2015 ACRONYM released a third album—the first recordings of Giovanni Valentini's instrumental works—which was praised in Gramophone for being "played with expertise, enthusiasm, and an almost tactile sense of timbre." In 2016 ACRONYM released its fourth album: Wunderkammer. Upcoming projects include the first recording of Samuel Capricornus's monumental "Jubilus Bernhardi" with the Bach Choir of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.

Donald Meineke

Hailed as a “fresh voice on New York’s musical scene” (The New Yorker), Donald Meineke serves as Cantor of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity in New York City, home of Bach Vespers and The Bach Choir and Players of Holy Trinity, where he serves as principal organist, directs the multiple choirs, and oversees the extensive music program and concert series. An active conductor, recitalist, lecturer, clinician, and singer, his multifaceted career has taken him to the great churches and cathedrals, concert halls, and universities around the world. He is the co-founder of Ensemble VIII, a professional early music ensemble in Austin, TX; co-founder of the 2014 Early Music Festival: New York; and was founder and Artistic Director of Vox Triniti in Massachusetts.

The Bach Choir of Holy Trinity

Praised for its vibrant, stylish sound and exceptional musicianship, The Bach Choir of Holy Trinity is the choir of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity in New York City, known as the city’s “temple to Bach” (The New York Times). The ensemble consists of the finest singers throughout the New York metro area, specializing in historical performance practices ranging from the 15th to 18th centuries. Beginning in 1968, the Bach Choir has presented the sacred choral works of North German Renaissance and Baroque composers, namely Johann Sebastian Bach and his predecessors and contemporaries, within the historic office of Vespers every Sunday evening. The twice Grammy-nominated choir has appeared in several films and television series and can be heard on numerous recordings. Visit for more information.




The music of Samuel Capricornus (1628–1665) remains largely neglected. The last major study of his works was by Doris Blaich in her 2010 doctoral thesis at Heidelberg University—and before that, Hans Buchner for his 1922 dissertation. Yet during his very short lifetime he was highly respected, broadly educated, and extremely ambitious. He sent on his works for comment to Heinrich Schütz, who declared his music “virtuosic” in the sense of being well composed. Another recipient of his music, Giacomo Carissimi, performed several of Capricornus’s compositions in Rome’s Sant’ Apollinare, where he held the post of maestro di cappella. The composer’s final position saw him made Hofkapellmeister in the Württemberg court of Duke Eberhard III, in Stuttgart. There he not unexpectedly met stout resistance from other musicians who had coveted and applied for his post, and would stir up trouble from time to time.

Only 17 of Capricornus’s works were ever published. Far more circulated in manuscript, and some of these, such as the work on this album, can still be found in both Protestant and Catholic collections—not perhaps surprising in a work such as this one, which adapts texts by Bernard of Clairvaux. Roughly 100 of these unpublished manuscripts remain, though existing inventories of the period list over four times that number. Much of Capricornus’s secular music, including all of his theatrical works, is lost.

The extant version of the Jubilus Bernhardi calls for five voice parts, five ripieno parts with traditional “loud” instruments, and a viol consort of four instruments. According to Blaich, though, an earlier version was assembled during his years spent as director of music in Pressburg (now Bratislava), 1651–1657. The original instrumentation, which survives only as noted in an inventory of the period, consisted of two violins and continuo. It was dedicated by Capricornus to the Duke, given his piety and appreciation of the arts—and to protect it, as the composer writes in his preamble, “from the tooth of envy.”

It is a graceful work in 24 movements, Italianate in expression. There are some modern elements, such as the recitative that leads off the second section of his haunting Mane nobiscum Domine. On the other hand, Capricornus sets the words “Nil canitur suavius” in his Jesu dulcis memoria in unison—syllabically, but not as spoken; instead, as what registers to the ear as 2-3-1-1 and 1-3-1-2 on three successive, downward-moving pitches, stated in a repetitive, trumpet-like fashion. This recalls the older Venetian School that included both Gabriellis. The impression is reinforced by Capricornus’s use of polychoral effects and independent sinfonias. The overall result is one of sensual grandeur put to the service of expressive sobriety. It is music that draws one in, but never loses sight of its spiritual objective.

The forces are listed as SSATB, though Capricornus adds notes to the ripieno parts “Ut vocant,” which may mean ad libitum, indicating a choir, as the work is performed here. Similarly, the continuo, a bass part with figures, is stated as “bassus pro organo.” This is reinforced on the current recording by theorbo.

The performances are very good, with reservations. In general, the soloists of the Bach Choir of Holy Trinity are excellent. But the bass who solos in Jesu, dulcedo Cordium sings without vibrato, swells the tone at length in the middle of every short musical phrase, then fades out the endings. This manneristic approach greatly disturbs to the musical line. That it would seem to be a personal choice is indicated by the trio of two sopranos and tenor which follow him, or by the various sopranos in Cum Maria diluculo, or by the various solo entries by soprano and tenor in Mane nobiscum Domine—the list is much longer, but the point is that they all phrase in a more standardized fashion. Elsewhere, the singing is excellent, a very few heavily slurred pairs of notes by the sopranos (Jesu dulcis memoria, for example) to one side. Acronym plays well, though it’s admittedly hard to determine much in detail, given the overly reverberant cathedral ambiance that has been achieved in this studio recording. Donald Meineke blends his voice parts attractively, and creates impressive unison effects with none of the untidiness that afflicts even some well-known choirs. Enunciation would seem to be good, though, once again, it’s difficult to tell for certain.

In short, recommended. The music of Capricornus is largely neglected, and it’s good to see a highly talented director like Meineke turn his attention to this music. Next time, though, it might be more useful to hear the music, rather than let an echo chamber get in the way.

-Barry Brenesal, 8.2.2018, Fanfare


Classics Today

You may not have heard of 17th-century composer Samuel Capricornus, born (1628) into a Lutheran family in what is today’s Czech Republic, and finishing his career (and life) 37 years later in Stuttgart, but if you enjoy music of that place and time, especially church music for voices and instruments, you should find that enjoyment enhanced by the enlightening program and performances on this recording.

Unfortunately the notes offer very little information about either composer or music, so if you’re more than just a little curious you will have to do some of your own research. In his early years as a musician, Capricornus (born Samuel Friedrich Bockshorn) worked in the court at Vienna and spent time in Bratislava before arriving in 1657 for what would be his final post, as Kapellmeister in Stuttgart. In his short career he wrote hundreds of works; most of those that survive are sacred choral pieces. Most strangely, the notes say even less regarding the music itself. What exactly is “the Jubilus Bernhardi”? A little investigative effort reveals that it is a collection–specifically motets–setting 24 spiritual texts by 12th-century French abbot Bernard of Clairvaux. (At least there is a separate booklet containing the texts and translations.)

Now that we have that out of the way, you can rest assured that the music itself, and the performances, are of consistently exceptional quality. The scoring is for “five soloists, five ripieno vocal parts, and a consort of violas da gamba with continuo”, and the resulting sound–especially with players and singers this good and well-chosen, ideally balanced and compatible in timbre–is thoroughly pleasant; you could even say it has a soothing quality as one motet sort of blends into the next. You hardly notice the transitions from one to another as there are no stark contrasts of mood or instrumentation, just an easy flow as voices alternate in different combinations, rhythms dance in varying degrees of complexity, melodies mingle, with harmonies always full and vibrant.

More than a few commentators have remarked that Capricornus’ church music serves as an important bridge from Schütz to Bach, and that is a fair assessment. Oh, and we also don’t get to know who the soloists are–all of the singers are listed together according to voice part (would it have been too much trouble to highlight the soloists with an asterisk?). But, as fine as these singers are, I have to give special mention to the outstanding bass soloist, whoever he is. In sum, a surprising discovery, well worth the two discs and nearly two hours of listening.

-David Vernier, 6.18.19, Classics Today

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