Music for Christmas Eve

Three pieces to create an island of calm amidst a no doubt otherwise hectic Christmas Eve. Two exquisite versions of the motet O Magnum Mysterium (text(s) taken from the service of Matins for Christmas Day)  – the Palestrina dates from 1569; the Morten Lauridsen from 1994. And, from Vaughan Williams’ Christmas Cantata, Hodie, a setting of Thomas Hardy’s poem, The Oxen.

Palestrina – Palestrina: O Magnum Mysterium

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Natum vidimus et chorus angelorum
collaudantes Dominum.
Alleluia

Quem vidistis pastores?
Dicite, annunciate nobis quis apparuit?
Natum vidimus et chorus angelorum
collaudantes Dominum.
Alleluia

O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
The new-born we have seen and a chorus
of angels praising God.
Alleluia!

Whom have you seen, shepherds?
Speak, tell us who has appeared?
The new-born we have seen and a chorus
of angels praising God.
Alleluia!

Lauridsen: O Magnum Mysterium

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

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.
Alleluia!

London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) – Hodie – A Christmas Cantata: VII. Song: The Oxen (Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock)

Thomas Hardy: The Oxen

 Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock,
and“Now they are all on their knees”,
An elder said as we sat in a flock
andBy the embers in hearthside ease.

 We pictured the meek mild creatures where
andThey dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
andTo doubt they were kneeling then.

 So fair a fancy few would weave
andIn these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
and“Come; see the oxen kneel

 “In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
andOur childhood used to know”,
I should go with him in the gloom,
andHoping it might be so.

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