This Christmas let the schola and polyphonic choir of St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary lift your heart and mind to the contemplation of the Christ Child. This new recording offers a real taste of the liturgical spirit of Christmas as understood and communicated by some of the finest composers of the Church's musical tradition. It includes the complete music of a Christmas Mass, combining the propers of the Christmas Day Mass in Gregorian chant with William Byrd’s Mass for three voices. The album also features magnificent Renaissance motets by Palestrina, Thomas Luis de Victoria and Michael Praetorius as well as two beautiful Medieval carols. All proceeds go to support St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary and the formation of traditional Catholic priests.
Audio professionally recorded and mastered by Jeff Cozy, Bright Ideas Multimedia, La Crosse, Wisconsin. Album comes individually wrapped in a jewel case.
Includes unlimited streaming of Puer Natus Est (Christmas)
via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
This album brings together Gregorian chant propers, polyphonic Mass ordinaries and incidental motets as heard in the third Mass of Christmas Day at Saint Thomas Aquinas Seminary. All performers on the recording are in the course of a seven-year program of studies to
become Roman Catholic priests. Singing is part of the Seminary’s daily life of prayer, consisting preeminently of Gregorian chant complemented by sacred polyphony. This album brings together some gems of Catholic musical tradition, giving a glimpse of the liturgical spirit of Christmas at the Seminary.
William Byrd (1543–1623) remained tenaciously Catholic in Elizabethan England, even though he continuously faced crippling fines for recusancy, that is, refusing to attend the protestantized "Supper of the Lord and Holy Communion, commonly called the Masse" at his local parish church. Byrd composed and published no fewer than three settings of the Mass as well as numerous Latin
motets. These compositions were written to be performed by amateur choirs at covert recusant chapels: illegal Mass centers where the traditional Catholic rites continued to be celebrated. The Mass for Three Voices (composed around 1591) is a concise work, in which an eloquent imitative counterpoint occasionally gives way to purely chordal passages. One notable instance of the choir singing together chordally is the repetition of the word "Catholicam" in the Credo. This passionate, if somewhat restrained, profession of Faith in the Catholic Church is a snapshot of Byrd: staunchly devout and deeply musical.
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525–1594) is perhaps the best-known voice of the Counter-Reformation 'Roman School' of composition. His seamless, flowing musical style makes him a model
for Catholic sacred music. The Motet Hodie Christus Natus Est, based on the text of the Magnificat antiphon at Second Vespers on Christmas Day, is interspersed with the traditional Christmas cries of ‘Noe, noe’ (Noël). Majestic declamatory passages give way to gentle, flowing lines and exultant interjections of "Alleluia" and "Noe."
Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548–1611) passed much of his career in Rome. He was a priest, and played a leading role in the musical life of the Eternal City, before returning to his native Spain in 1587. The
famous four-voice motet O Magnum Mysterium is charged with an awe-struck wonder at the birth of Christ, before breaking out in a jubilant refrain of "Alleluia." O Regem Coeli, by way of contrast, is a
piece praising the majesty and divinity of Christ, the Light Who has appeared: "He lies in the manger and reigns in heaven." There Is No Rose (from a Cambridge manuscript) and Ave Maria (from the Selden Manuscript) provide two examples of the medieval English carol,
characterized by open harmonies, a mixture of Latin and English and an ardent Marian spirit.
Procedenti Puero is a thirteenth-century New Year's carol (from the Florence manuscript). Its strong modal flavor and dance-like rhythmic energy almost burst with joy: "Eya! Novus annus est!" (Rejoice, the new year is come!) It is accompanied by a Hurdy-gurdy drone.
The Gregorian chant propers of the Christmas Day Mass are some of the most beautiful of the liturgical year. The music of these chants, excluding the Offertory, bespeak undiluted joy at the birth of Christ. The Offertory is marked by an internal contemplation, rapt in near-silent adoration of the Divine Child.
Ave Maria... Virgo Serena was once the sequence for the Mass of the Annunciation.
Despite the commerce involved, we hope that you will consider this album our Christmas gift to you. Merry Christmas!