Tuesday, December 23, 2014

O magnum mysterium: Settings of an Ancient Christmas Text

In light of Christmas this week, I thought it would be appropriate to contemplate the beauty and meaning in an ancient Christmas text, O magnum mysterium. Below you can read the English translation of this text and then I’ve followed it with five musical settings. Which is your favorite, or do you have another favorite that is not listed here?

O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.
Alleluia!

Morton Lauridsen


William Byrd


Tomás Luis de Victoria


Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina


Francis Poulenc


Here is a list of upcoming Christmas specials on 90.9 WGUC to accompany your holiday activities!

Tuesday, December 23, 7:00 PM
St. Olaf Christmas Festival: A service in song and word that has become one of the nation’s most cherished holiday celebrations. The festival includes hymns, carols, choral works, and orchestral selections celebrating the Nativity and featuring more than 500 student musicians who are members of five choirs and the St. Olaf Orchestra.

Wednesday, December 24, 10:00 AM
A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols: Hosted by Michael Barone, this is a live stereo music and spoken-word broadcast from the chapel of King's College in Cambridge, England. The 30-voice King's College Choir performs the legendary Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols service of Biblical readings and music.

Wednesday, December 24, 6:00 PM
A Chanticleer Christmas: Nothing signals the beginning of the holiday season like 12 men singing in beautifully blended harmony. A Chanticleer Christmas is American Public Media's one-hour celebration of the season as told through the glorious voices of Chanticleer, the San Francisco-based men's choir.  The program spans the globe and the centuries — from England in the 1300s to new arrangements of classic and contemporary carols to Chanticleer's popular Gospel medley of Christmas tunes.

Thursday, December 25, 6:00 PM

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols: ENCORE

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