Raleigh's Playlist - O Magnum Mysterium

Raleigh Kincaid | November 23, 2015

I have been looking forward to this addition to Raleigh’s Playlist since the whole idea of staff blogs began. The piece I am sharing is a beautiful setting of one of the most lovely and ancient Latin texts for Advent. This setting is by Morton Lauridsen, an American composer born in 1943. He is a long time professor of composition at USC and especially his choral settings are among the most loved and performed in the world today. This is one of my favorites. 

There are several reasons I chose this one from all the ones of his I love. First and foremost, I chose it because of the sheer beauty of the piece.  Second, I picked this one because the Central Baptist Church Sanctuary Choir will be performing another setting of the same text during Advent this year and in particular on our annual Service of Nine Lessons and Carols on December 20. 

The setting our choir is doing is by Tomas Luis de Victoria, born in 1548. His setting of this text is one of the most beloved and enduring choral motets composed during the Renaissance. I think it is interesting and compelling to hear how two masters separated by almost exactly 400 years have each made the wonderful mystery of the incarnation so rich and beautiful.

You’re going to have to wait on our presentation of the Victoria version but I encourage you to give this one a moment. Seriously consider setting aside seven minutes or so from your busy schedule when you can be very still and very focused. Look at the translation of the text provided here and then take in the awesome mood set by Lauridsen. When I listen to it, I know I am closer to getting in touch with the real experience of Advent. Only music does that for me and hopefully this one and the second one later on will do the same for you. 

O great mystery
and wondrous sacrament,
that animals should see the Lord newborn
lying in a manger.
O blessed Virgin, whose womb was worthy
to bear the Lord Christ Jesus.

3 months


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On December 1, 2015, Jan F. said:

Tried to listen several times but get message about some error occurring.

On December 1, 2015, Jan Fischer said:

listened on You Tube to both arrangements. I believe this is the music you hear in heaven. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to sing this music.

On January 2, 2016, Martha Burke said:

Absolutely spectacular! You know my love of all things boy choir. I sang this for the first time with UK Chorale the first semester I was working on my degree. I fell in love with this piece then, and came to love it even more when I sang it with Lexington Chamber Chorale.

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