John Williams has provided soundtracks for many of Steven Spielberg's films, and he composed this setting of Exsultate Justi for Spielberg's Empire Of The Sun (1987). It joyously celebrates the liberation of a Shanghai internment camp by American forces at the end of World War II.
The Latin text is taken from Psalm 32; the lines Williams has chosen to use can be translated (somewhat inelegantly) into English as follows:
Laudamus te, Laudamus
We praise you, we give praise!
Exsultate justi in Domino
Rejoice in the Lord, you just;
Rectos decet laudatio
Praise befits the upright.
Alleluia, Alleluia !
Salvator Dominus, Salvator mundi
The Lord is Saviour, Saviour of the world,
Qui tollis peccata mundi
Who takes away the sins of the world.
Cantate ei canticum novum
Sing to Him a new song,
Bene psallite ei in vociferatione
Sing to Him well, with a loud voice.
Williams evidently revised his composition some time after the film's release, and Gurt Lush use this revised arrangement. The clip on the right shows Williams conducting a live performance of the same re-arrangement. The original soundtrack recording has a much longer Alleluia passage in the middle but a briefer, less exuberant ending. It also sounds a little subdued in comparison with the later arrangement.
There are many other choral renditions of Exsultate Justi on YouTube, but none that seem to reveal any different dimensions in the piece. However, here is a nice performance by the Saxophone Ensemble of California State University, Long Beach.
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CoMA Festival of Contemporary Music, The Vic Rooms
2 - 6 May 2018
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