O Emmanuel: Great antiphon for 23 December 2015

Presumably because of the hymn Veni, veni, Immanuel, many people assume that O’ Emmanuel is the first antiphon but it is in fact the seventh and final ‘O’ antiphon.  ‘O Emmanuel’  which is sung on December 23rdis based upon Isaiah 7:14. Isaiah 7:14: Propter hoc dabit Dominus ipse vobis signum : ecce virgo concipiet, et…

O Rex gentium: Great Antiphon for 22 December 2015

The sixth ‘O’ antiphon which is sung on December  22nd is ‘O Rex gentium’ (O King of the Nations), is based upon two verses in Isaiah Isaiah 9:6 and Isaiah 2:4: Isaiah 9:6 Parvulus enim natus est nobis, et filius datus est nobis, et factus est principatus super humerum ejus : et vocabitur nomen ejus,…

O Adonai: Great Antiphon for 18 December 2015

The word ‘Adonai’ is Hebrew and can be translated in English as "Lord of Lords". Thus O Adonai which is sung on December 18th invokes Jesus as Lord of Lords and asks him as leader (dux) of the House of Israel to come and deliver us . The antiphon’s text is based on Isaiah 11:4-5.…

O Sapientia: Great Antiphon for 17 December 2015

The anti­phon, for 17 De­cemb­er, O Sapien­ta (‘O Wis­dom’) is based upon Isaiah 11:2-3, and Isaiah 28:29.  As I mentioned in my introductory posting introducing the antiphons framed the performance of the Magnificat during Vespers, in the performance you can hear below the singers have done precisely this – sung first the antiphon and then…

Alonso Lobo (1555-1617): Ave Maria

Lobo’s eight-part setting of the Marian antiphon Ave Maria is one of seven motets that he published in 1602 while employed at Toledo Cathedral. It’s an astounding piece of music that’s based on a scheme of complex 8-in-4 canonical writing in which the lower voices of two SATB choirs sing the same music but the…

Cristóbal de Morales (±1500 –1553): Regina caeli

Like most of his Cristóbal de Morales’ motets his setting of the Marian antiphon Regina caeli  is a five-part setting. It probably dates from fairly late on in his career and in one way is fairly conventional in that it quotes the chant fairly heavily. Conventional? I’d prefer to say that it’s a great example…

Peter Philips (1560-1628): Ave Regina cælorum

Peter Philips’ setting of the Marian antiphon Ave Regina cælorum (Hail, Queen of heaven) was published in his Cantiones Sacræ of 1612. It’s a five-part (SSATB) setting very much in the new Roman style. The five-voice structure meant that he could vary the texture at will to reflect words or phrases in his text coupled…