Mystery & Mirth: A Spanish Christmas
Thank you for joining us in celebrating a Spanish Christmas! Our selections, mostly from the city of Seville, will tell the mystery of Christmas, honor the Holy Mother, and celebrate the human aspect of this special feast day.
The Iberian peninsula witnessed the crossing of many cultures, both due to its proximity to Africa, and its history of Moorish monarchs from the 8th till the end of the 15th century (with the fall of Granada, 1492). Arabic culture strongly influenced Spanish instrumental music, especially with the introduction of instruments like the oud (which eventually inspired the lute and guitar), rebek, and lots of drums. Vocal music, while not as dramatic, saw influences from poetry, rhythm, and a penchant for storytelling.
I. Mystery of Christmas
Victoria’s O Magnum Mysterium (pub. 1572) is a perfect example of Renaissance polyphony representative of the musical style in Rome, where he studied as a teenager and where he composed it. Unadorned melodies in clear imitation between voices are mixed with grand homophonic sections, ensuring that the audience can hear the text easily. Two decades later, Victoria used this motet as the basis for a full “parody mass”: melodies, counterpoint, imitations, and other musical ideas from the original motet are borrowed and broken down, with the purpose of fitting the new text and exploring new musical potential.
O Magnum Mysterium
Kyrie: Missa O Magnum Mysterium
Gloria: Missa O Magnum Mysterium
- Tomás Luis de Victoria (Rome/Madrid; 1548-1611)
O great mystery and wonderful sacrament that even the animals
saw the new-born Lord lying in a manger.
Blessed Virgin, whose womb was worthy to bear our Lord Christ.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.