Da Pacem

  • Composer: Jeffrey Enns 
  • Publisher: Cypress Choral Music
  • Cat No: CP 1151
  • Canadian Work: Yes
  • Duration: 3:24
  • Sample Track:

Program Notes:

The biblical text, “Da pacem, Domine, in diebus nostris”, translates as “Give peace, Lord, in our time.” The choir first sings this plea to God in a calm, unison line, like an ancient chant. This simple and warm beginning changes form to something more insistent and rhythmic, and then opens up to a glorious and grand, almost desperate call for peace. This 2009 a cappella composition and several others by Canadian composer Jeff Enns is well known in Canada. Jeff is a native of Waterloo, Ontario where he grew up surrounded by music. He studied organ, viola and composition at Wilfrid Laurier University and has won a number of composition competitions. His music has been performed across North America, as well as in Ireland, the U.K and Japan.

Conductor Notes:

As soon as I saw this score, I knew this piece would work beautifully for Elektra. Ontario composer Jeffrey Enns treats the plea for peace in many ways, from quiet and calm to dramatically pleading. Scored for SSAA choir a cappella, the piece opens and closes with a chantlike melody, sometimes unison and other times harmonized. Mixed metres abound, always in service of the word stress. The overall tempo is slow to moderate, but a middle section has the altos on a more rhythmic ostinato while the other voices create a crescendo on sustained chords. I highly recommend this piece to advanced youth choirs and adult women’s choirs, and suggest you keep an eye out for other music by this fine Canadian composer.

Composer / Arranger Notes:

Da Pacem was written for the women of the Canadian Chamber Choir conducted by Julia Davids. I had the privilege of being the composer-in-residence as well as singing in the Bass section in the choir for a fantastic tour of Nova Scotia. The women and men each sang a piece on their own in the concerts and I loved the sound of the women’s voices. Da Pacem was written the day after the tour when the sounds were still fresh in my mind. The chant-like beginning starts the piece off in a very gentle, unhurried fashion and returns at the end to close the piece the same way. The “give peace in our time O Lord” builds from the opening unison into two, then three and four parts. It then shifts to a more insistent tone with the altos providing a mixed meter ostinato beneath the upper parts floating chords. Then all parts sing the previous alto rhythm as the intensity of the text eases somewhat. Following that, the mood then changes again into a flowering of the Da Pacem text as each part sings a rising interval to come together in a joyful amen, before returning again to the character of the beginning.


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Da pacem, Domine, in diebus nostris.


Give peace in our time, O Lord.