Videamus: 5. O Magnum Mysterium

Year of composition
Difficult (Grades 7+)
5 minutes
Modern classical music
Instrumental parts
Not available

O Magnum Mysterium is the Fifth of Five Christmas Motets. It was premiered in December of 1998 by Circle Singers of Washington DC, for whom it was written. I have redistributed some of the vocal lines, and extended the Alleluia at the end. The mood of the piece is (surprise!) mystery. When I started to try to set this text(in about 1990) I was not sure where it was going to go. Around the time I got back to it and finished it up, I was rather under the influence of John Taverner and Frank Ferko (and maybe Penderecki's Stabat Mater). Linking the five motets is a motive which comes from this motet (the soprano/bass opening melody) which as cropped up in somewhat altered form in both Nolite Timere, and in a major key form in Pastores. Subconcious? Yes. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Oddly enough, Dr. Morse and the director of Circle Singers had the same idea about a double chorus. We went a step further and surrounded the audience for this and the previous motet. In spite of baby noises, the performance on this mp3 best captures the mystery I was hoping for.

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