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HODIE CHRISTUS NATUS EST
Composed in 2012, as the first of two Christmas motets, this short work is a setting for unaccompanied five-part choir. The text, paraphrasing St Luke’s Gospel 2 : 11, 13-14, comes from the liturgy of the vesper service for Christmas Day. It is dedicated to Rodney Parker.
Set in a Lydian mode (with prominent sharpened 4ths), the setting is both declamatory and antiphonal in style. The homophonic responses are choral fanfares, using tonal cluster chords to evoke the triumphant atmosphere. Continually changing time signatures, and contrapuntal echoes in stretto, reinforce the restless, excitable mood. Despite the short duration, the work rises from its initial F tonality, through a section in G, to conclude in an A Lydian mode. The final “Christus” is the most dissonant chord of all, yet encapsulates the overall air of rejoicing.
Hodie Christus natus est
hodie Salvator apparuit:
hodie in terra canunt Angeli,
hodie exsultant justi, dicentes:
Gloria in excelsis Deo, alleluja.
Today Christ is born;
today the Saviour hath appeared;
today the Angels sing,
the Archangels rejoice;
today the righteous rejoice, saying:
Glory to God in the highest. Alleluia!