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Musical Advent Calendar: Day 6

Later this week, on Saturday 8th December the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

At St Michael's that day we will have our Advent Quiet Morning, beginning at 10am. There will be Mass at 11am as normal, and the morning will conclude at 1pm with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Please do join us if you're able - you will be most welcome.

Much of the most wonderful sacred choral music, particularly that written in the Renaissance, is Marian. Today I have chosen a setting of Alma Redemptoris Mater by Spanish Renaissance composer Tomas Luis de Victoria.

The Text:

a musical setting of the Marian antiphon Alma Redemptoris Mater used during Advent and Christmas. At St Michael's we sing the simple plainsong version of this antiphon at the end of Evening Prayer each day. Find a recording of the simple but beautiful plainsong version here. This is an English translation of the text:

O loving Mother of our Redeemer, gate of heaven, star of the sea, Hasten to aid thy fallen people who strive to rise once more. Thou who brought forth thy holy Creator, all creation wond'ring, Yet remainest ever Virgin, taking from Gabriel's lips that joyful "Hail!": be merciful to us sinners.

The Music:

Victoria composed two different settings of this text, one for five voices, and another for eight. The recording below is the eight-part version. Listen carefully for allusions to the simple plainsong melody quoted above. It doesn't appear in its entirety but there are hints all the way through.

There is also a Mass setting by Victoria based on this motet for 8 voices.

Fr Philip


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