Against the background of twelve operas, three symphonies and over a hundred romances, Gounod produced some 200 sacred works that marked the beginning and the end of his artistic career.

The Lamentation Gallia, for solo soprano, chorus and orchestra, was written during this period under the influence of the French military defeat of 1870. It was premiered in 1871. In 1874 the composer survived a stroke, after which he returned to France. Following several unsuccessful operas he focused on sacred music. In 1888 he was made a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour.

Gallia is a motet-lamentation on a Latin text, presenting a picture of the desolate and devastated Jerusalem. Sorrow and pain are the occasion for the choral prayerful invocation to God (‘vide Domine, afflictionem meam’, ‘see, Lord, my sorrow’) and a call for the people to turn again to the Most High and follow him.

In this work, Gounod wanted to “present France as it was… outraged, offended, insulted by the insolence and brutality of its enemy…”.

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