A reprise by the choir of this Sero te amavi theme (Late have I loved thee) theme ushers in an introspective transitional section featuring solo instruments in a brief dialogue with a baritone soloist singing the words Thou wast with me, but I was not with thee. This leads the way to an ostinato (short repeated 16th notes) in the strings and harp propelling the choir’s recitation of the text to the climactic section Thou didst gleam and shine (corucasti splenduisti) above which the six-note motif soars in the violins.
This climax yields to the concluding section with the words and now I pant for thee (et anhelo tibi). Here is introduced a quotation of the plainsong melody O Sacrum Convivium (O sacred communion) by the tenors and basses, underpinning the sopranos and altos hovering above them with the words I tasted and now hunger and thirst (gustavi et esurio et sitio). The harmonic shifts imposed upon the chant melody reflect the ancient-new dichotomy of the poetry, during which the six-note motif is hinted at over and over by the violins and harp in a calm, crystalline pattern. All dissolves into the words Thou didst touch me (tetigisti me), while the opening six-note motif is taken up by a soprano soloist singing Ever ancient and ever new (tam antiqua et tam nova) over the choir’s Sero te amavi theme now rephrased as in peace… I love thee (in pacem… te amavi). The choir and soloist extinguish the work with O Beauty… I burn… for thy peace (O Pulchritudo… et exarsi… in pacem tuam).
This work has been recorded on GOTHIC RECORDS 49319 by the Choir of Saint James, conducted by the composer, and is available at stjla.org/album or through your favorite retailer.
The full conductor’s score is 39 pages (letter-size - 8 ½ x 11 inches) in length, and is designed for front only copying or for front and back “booklet” style copying. The vocal score contains a keyboard reduction (for rehearsal purposes only) and is 27 pages (letter-size - 8 ½ x 11 inches) in length, and is also designed for front only copying or for front and back “booklet” style copying. This score is used by the chorus. Purchasers download a PDF file with permission to reproduce copies in maximum quantities of 40, 60 or 99. (Permission “rights” are printed on the bottom of each score). If permission to reproduce more than 99 copies is desired, please contact MusicaBellaLuna@gmail.com. A complete set of instrumental parts (strings, harp, oboe, horn and organ) is also available for purchase. Once purchased, the product will be immediately available for download from the Purchase Confirmation page. A confirmation email with a download link will also be sent to the Purchaser’s email address. Once purchased, this music may be performed without limitations. For recording rights, please contact the composer at MusicaBellaLuna@gmail.com.
Purchase a License for O BEAUTY EVER ANCIENT EVER NEW
O BEAUTY EVER ANCIENT EVER NEW
Composed in 2011 for the Centennial of St. James’ Church, Los Angeles, CA, O Beauty Ever Ancient Ever New is in memory of my father and brother.
The text chosen for this piece was suggested by the Rev. Paul J. Kowalewski, then Rector of St. James’ Church, with the words “Ever Ancient Ever New” as the theme for the centennial celebrations for the parish. I was immediately captivated by the passionate and vivid nature of this poetry composed by St. Augustine as part of his monumental CONFESSIONS.
It is scored for an orchestra of strings, harp, oboe, French horn, and organ (optional). The recommended minimum number of string players is 6-5-4-4-2.
The structure of this fourteen-minute work is informed by the poetry: an opening introduction presents a six-note motif, first announced by the oboe and echoed by the French horn, which forms the basis of the melodic and harmonic material which follows. The words (set in Latin) Late have I loved thee, O Beauty ever ancient and ever new are repeated by the choir, rising to a fevered pitch before fading into the second section, which develops the musical motif as St. Augustine’s text delves into the deeper meaning of his opening sentiment.