Saturday morning quotes 4.29: Advent I
Winter has descended with a vengeance in our neck of the woods, as if to aggressively put to the test strength of body and character and curtly suggest that we may need to put aside any ideas about music and consider creative ways to remain unfrozen. But just like the Dude, we abide.
While our frantically secular culture is completely consumed with shopping, we point out that along with the startlingly premature cold weather comes Advent, and November 30th marks the first Sunday of the season. Since Advent marks the beginning of the Church year, it’s a time for beginnings of all sorts, so we mark the season with our own version of an Advent Calendar adapted for our weekly format.
“Music is not man’s invention, but his heritage from the blessed spirits. Music describes the very being of God…it can affect for good or ill the body as well as the mind.”
– attributed to Tomás Luis de Victoria (c. 1548 – 1611)
Appropriate to the first Sunday in Advent is the text “Ne timeas Maria,” though more proper to Lauds on the Feast of the Annunciation (which was March 25). The text was set sublimely for four voices by Tomás Luis de Victoria and published in his first set of motets, Thomae Ludovici De Victori, Abulensis Motecta Que Partim Quaternis Partim, Quinis, Alia, Senis, Alia Octonis Vocibus Concinuntur Venetijs Apud Filios Antonij Gardani 1572.
Victoria adapted the text from Luke, Ch. 1:26-38 as below:
Ne timeas Maria,
Invenisti enim gratiam apud Dominum:
Ecce concipies in utero et paries filium,
et vocabitur altissimi Filius.
Fear not Mary,
for you have found favor in the house of the Lord.
Behold, you shall conceive and bring forth a son,
and He shall be called Son of the most High.
Although he spent most of his compositional career in Rome, Victoria’s musical style reflects the emotional intensity and rhythmic refinement characteristic of Spanish music circa 1600. Victoria wrote no secular music, and none specifically for instruments, but his style lends itself to our arrangement of his four-voice motet for the beguiling combination of solo voice and lute.
Our recording of the motet taps into the calm serenity of Victoria’s music, which we augment ever so slightly with tasteful divisions for voice. You can hear the result on our recording, Duo Seraphim, you can find our arrangement for solo voice and lute in Mignarda Edition’s anthology of 16th-century sacred music for voice and lute, Harmonia Cælestis Volume One, and an excellent source of information on the composer is Studies in the Music of Tomás Luis de Victoria by Eugene Casjen Cramer, Ashgate, Aldershot, 2001.