Gemma nitens

The source of Gemma nitens (O shining jewel) is a manuscript in the archives of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, (MS 512), it’s a two part piece in honour of The Virgin composed for the feast of The Annunciation and in its time would have been one of many pieces of music dedicated to her in a land whose devotion to her cult was renowned throughout Christendom. The music’s simplicity and melodic idiom allows it to reflect and express the text in a surprisingly warm and appealing manner. Enjoy :-).


Gemma nitens

Gemma nitens, sole splendidior clariorque die
sub regis imperio cunctipotencie,
omnium precellentissima gracia,
imperatrix in celi curia,
astes nobis peccantibus,
vena perennis venie,
succurre nobis omnibus
vultu memorie,
pia mater leticie,
imple penitentem,
ad te convertentem
mentis solamine,
et conserva gregem,
genitrix, apud regem
dato precamine;
virgo nuncio Gabriele plena gracia,
esto cunctis reis salus victoria;
nato prole veritas
patet quod virginitas
manet pura castitas
per eternas semitas
fulgens ut sol iusticie;
porta fit ecclesie
stabilis sua serie.

O shining jewel, more brilliant
than the sun, brighter than the
day, under the dominion of
the almighty king, O thou who in
the heavenly court hast sway over
all by dint of thy all-surpassing
grace: help us sinners,
thou unceasing river of forgiveness,
with the face of remembrance,
kind mother of gladness, fill the
penitent who turns to thee
with solace for his soul,
and by offering thy prayer,
O mother, preserve the flock
before the king;
o virgin
full of grace through Gabriel
the messenger, be salvation
and victory for all sinners;
with the birth of the child the truth is revealed—
that virginity remains pure chastity, shining
like the sun of justice upon the
eternal pathways; it becomes the
door of the church, firm in its order.

The Choir of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge directed by Geoffrey Webber.

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