Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611): Lauda Sion salvatorem

De Victoria’s eight-part (SATB SATB) setting of Aquinas’ hymn for the Feast of Corpus Christi was first published by Alessandro Gardane in 1585 in Rome and again in 1600 in Madrid by Ioannes Flandrum. Aquinas’ poem consists of twenty-four verses but Victoria set only five of them – verses 1, 2, 5, 12 and 23. "Only five", I say, but what a setting, throughout the motet there’s a constant antiphonal dialogue between the two choirs. It starts quietly enough with the first choir singing the chant’s opening phrase in the soprano line, the second choir then comes in with a delightful falling line in the top at the start of the second line (Lauda ducem) while the the verse’s third line consists of a series of rapid exchanges between the two choirs. The second verse echoes the first. The third section (Sit laus plena to Praeter rerum ordinem) sets verses five and twelve of Aquinas’ text to a fast-moving, light, and vivacious melody, with some very nicely figured syncopation that’s so like a madrigal that I find myself wondering whether De Victoria had a particular piece in mind when he wrote it. The final section (verse 23 of the poem) starts with a gentle triple time motion which belies the conclusion’s amazingly energetic and sonorous eight-part harmony. Enjoy :-).


Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611): Lauda Sion salvatorem

Lauda Sion salvatorem,
Lauda ducem et pastorem,
In hymnis et canticis.
Sion, praise thy saviour;
give praises to thy guide and pastor
in hymns and songs.
Quantum potes, tantum aude:
Quia maior omni laude,
Nec laudare sufficis.
Praise him as strongly and boldly as you can
since he is greater than all praise
which can never be sufficient.
Sit laus plena, sit sonora,
Sit iucunda, sit decora
Mentis iubilatio.
Let praise be full, let it be sonorous;
let it be joyful, let it be graceful;
let our souls rejoice.
Quod non capis, quod non vides,
Animosa firmat fides,
Praeter rerum ordinem.
What thou canst not see or understand
must eagerly be affirmed by faith
outside the natural order of things.
Bone pastor, panis vere,
Jesu nostri miserere:
Tu nos pasce, nos tuere,
Tu nos bona fac videre
In terra viventium.
O good shepherd, true bread,
O Jesus, have mercy on us:
O thou support us and guard us;
make us see good things
in the land of the living.
  • St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)
  • Sequence for the Feast of Corpus Christi


Westminster Cathedral Choir conducted by James O’Donnell.
Joseph Cullen – organ.

The score is available as a PDF from Nancho Alvarez’s site.

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