Well, the only real mystery is why these pieces, each a sheer delight, aren’t better known. Both works concern the mysteries surrounding the birth of Christ and his divinity, and both are astonishing works of compostion. The first, “Mirablile Mysterium,” was composed by the Slovenian composer Jacobus Gallus (1550-1591, also known as Jacobus Handl) as a five voice motet. Here’s the text and translation:
Mirabile mysterium declaratur hodie, innovantur naturae; Deus homo factus est; id quod fuit, permansit, et quod non erat, assumpsit, non commixtionem passus neque divisionem.
A wondrous mystery is declared today, natures are renewed; God has become man; that which he was, he remains, and that which he was not, he has assumed, suffering neither mixture nor division.
And here is a version from Vocaal Ensemble PANiek, Nijmegen:
I just love the way it builds. I also love the way this piece sound like nothing else.
Second, a piece so simple but so mysterious, “Christum Wir Sollen Loben Schon.” This originally was a hymn composed by Martin Luther and published in 1524, which later became a cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach—but it has very deep roots. In its simpler form, the lyrics come from a German translation of a very old Latin chant (“A Solus Ortus Cardine”), dating from the fifth century. Luther’s version, here presented by Collegium Vocale, conveys some of the mystery surrounding Christ’s divine birth. Luther took this stuff seriously—he believed that music was the way to convey the inspiration of Christ, and he personally composed nearly 40 hymns, many of which are still used in Christian services.
Categories: Music/Popular Culture