Corde Natus

for satb choir a cappella

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score sample

Corde natus ex parentis (Of the Father’s Love Begotten) was commissioned by Scott MacPherson and the Vokalensemble Kölner Dom and premiered in the Cologne Cathedral. The text was written by Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (c.348 – c.413), a Roman judge. The principle melody, Divinum Mysterium, is from an 11th Century Sanctus trope. Both the text and tune are familiar as Christmas hymns.

I have tried to take my setting closer to its source than the typical hymn setting. The work opens with the tune sung as a chant in the sopranos. Slowly, the rest of the choir “picks up” individual pitches in the melody, as though there were a very selective reverb in the hall, forming a diatonic sheen around the melody. The second verse is set mostly in strict modal counterpoint among the upper voices, but the men sing in parallel 5ths, echoing early organum. Finally, the text, tune and choir are desembled into 4 soloists and multiple separate parts, each presenting small portions of the preceding counterpoint in overlapping waves.

Corde Natus ex Parentis
Corde natus ex parentis
ante mundi exordium
A et O cognominatus,
ipse fons et clausula
Omnium quae sunt, fuerunt,
quaeque post futura sunt.

Saeculorum saeculis.

O beatus ortus ille,
virgo cum puerpera
Edidit nostram salutem,
feta Sancto Spiritu,
Et puer redemptor
orbis os sacratum protulit.

Saeculorum saeculis

Of the Father’s Heart Begotten
Of the Father’s heart begotten,
ere the world from chaos rose,
he is Alpha, from that Fountain
all that is and hath been flows;
he is Omega, of all things
yet to come the mystic close,

evermore and evermore.

O how blest that wondrous birthday,
when the Maid the curse retrieved,
brought to birth mankind’s salvation;
by the Holy Ghost conceived;
and the Babe, the world’s Redeemer
in her loving arms received,

evermore and evermore.