Composed in 2012, as the second of two Christmas motets, this short work for unaccompanied five-part choir is a setting of the responsorial chant from the Matins of Christmas.

Set in a simple ternary structure, the outer sections make use of the E Lydian mode, with semitonal chord clusters and hushed, motivic echoes to evoke an other-worldly ambience. The short central section (Beata Virgo…) is largely homophonic and rises to a fortissimo climax on the words “Dominum Christum”.

The reprise of “O magnum mysterium” is even quieter, initially, but concludes with an extended return of the first climax, this time to a single triumphant statement, with unresolved Lydian effect on the word, “Alleluia”.

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.

O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.