Ēriks Ešenvalds (b1977): Amazing grace

Let’s start the week with Ēriks Ešenvalds’ arrangement of Amazing Grace he wrote it in 2004 for the Latvian youth choir Kamēr. The idea behind Ešenvalds arrangement is both simple and daring he treats it as a set of variations within a chorale taking the tune and varying it each time it’s heard. We first…

Mater ora filium — 14th century polyphony

This source of this charming piece of 14th century polyphony is a Gradual of Sarum chant now in the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library1 Both the composer and the text’s author are unknown and it seems likely as it was the only polyphonic item in the gradual that it was intended for liturgical use. It’s…

John Sheppard (±1515-1558): Æterne Rex altissime

The hymn Aeterne Rex altissime (Eternal king most high) is rather more than a thousand years old. It was first cited by the Saxon monk, theologian and poet  Gottschalk of Orbais (808 AD -867 AD) and included the 9th-century New Hymnal.  Sheppard’s setting would have been intended to be sung at Vespers on Ascension Day,…

Guillaume Dufay (1397-1474): Flos florum

The text Dufay’s Marian three-part (ATT) motet Flos FLorum is to be found in the Analecta hymnica medii aevi.  It’s a song motet which means firstly that Dufay composed the melody in its entirety making no reference to the chant, and secondly that unlike previous generations’ motets their form is neither inferred nor derived from…