Ecce Virgo Concipiet (Behold, a Virgin Shall Conceive) • New Advent Motet
  • Greetings all,
    I wanted to share my newly-composed SATB motet, Ecce Virgo Concipiet. This sets the quotation from Isaiah 7 that is mentioned in the Gospel reading for Advent IV, Year A (although this is appropriate to sing every Advent).

    Behold, the Virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and they shall call Him 'Emmanuel'.

    Here's the YT demo (real human) with animated score: (mp3 is also attached)

    And here is where you can purchase the PDF on my website for a nominal fee: Purchasing the PDF permits you to print as many copies as you need for your choir/schola, and two versions of the PDF are included: a normal US-Letter sized version for standard printers, and an 11x17 2-up/booklet version for those of you with access to larger printers at church. (I prefer this latter format because it keeps the pages together in choir folders.)

    I constructed this work such that it is comparably simple: it is primarily homophonic, with only little rhythmic flourishes here and there, in nice equal-length phrases with fairly predictable (but not "boring") harmonies, and a "refrain" (the first line of text) that gets repeated, and musical substance that makes a reappearance in the coda. Consequently, choirs should be able to learn this piece very quickly, and it is good for modest resources (size or ability), but still fun for experienced singers as well. (à la Pitoni's Cantate Domino)
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,137
    Lovely! However, I think I would have scored it in 6/4 rather than 3/4, since the harmonic/rhythmic movement fits better, not to mention the hemiolas at the cadences.
  • I like this Serviam!
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • Charles, you’re probably right. I’ll take a look at that.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Serviam,

    far be it from me to critique your mastery because I know what your goal was, but let me throw my "little two cents" in please: on measures 21-22 I would've (personally) offset the syncopation in the Sopranos, m21, b1 move from G to b2, F, and next measure 22 to E being dotted half note; likewise the Bass: m21, b1 go from E down to b2, B, then likewise as in the soprano move to C, dotted half note in measure 22. Keep the Alto as is. And have the Tenor section from m21, b1 be a doted half that ties into a quarter on m22, b1 and lower to b2, being a half note....Lastly and I almost forgot that basses cadence on E in measure 23, else there's parallel motion between basses and altos. Also I agree with Chuck that changing time signature would clean up the look, especially in this section I just described. I hope that all made sense?

    Like I said, just my own preference, and I'm a little skeptical of the "Alleluia's" being used outside of the 3rd Sunday of Advent...Pardon my ignorance if this is different in the OF as opposed to what I'm used to in the EF.

    Aside from all that, I'll have to support your effort and see if our Director is open to doing this.
  • While I’m in a bit deep at this point (having made a promo / practice track), I’m certainly not beyond criticism, nor am I opposed to making improvements. It came out very quickly; very instinctual, but I’ll study your notes with a score tomorrow afternoon once I’m back in my office.
  • (And as for the alleluia, it’s not suppressed in advent as it is in lent, and it seemed appropriate to me to sing ‘alleluia’ to the fact that the Savior is soon to make His entrance.)
  • sdtalley3—
    thanks for your feedback. I was a bit embarrassed that I had not noticed the parallel between the alto and basses at that spot; an easy fix is to have them double the sopranos there, rather than the basses. In truth, you don't much hear it, but it is a fly in the ointment.

    As for 6/4 vs. 3/4, while it does clarify the hemiolas, it makes the other measures with smaller note values a little harder to parse out when there are twice as many notes; seems to trade one problem for another. For me, it's take-it-or-leave-it. I may just offer it both ways.

    As for the syncopations, I am rather partial to my hemiolas. I've experimented with your suggestions of altering the rhythm, but the hemiolas were no accident, and by following your suggestions, the effect is destroyed.

    As for that tenor note in m.21, I debated there, and the reason I notated it as I did is that I was envisioning a slight rearticulation in the tenors just as I've indicated later on in the tenors in m.37 and sopranos in m.46. I simply didn't mark it at that point in the score because it wasn't as clean to mark as the single vowels like in the other measures. I made the supposition that any conductor studying the score would presume to treat it the same as the places where I did mark it. (Perhaps this is a dangerous supposition! lol).
    Thanked by 1sdtalley3
  • Serviam,

    yes and that is why I made clear that I knew what the original point was. I have a preference for dissonances to be prepared in many cases as possible and in such instances where there are harsh clashes in sound, it makes the effect little more bearable, so I know what you're saying when the rhythm effect of what you were going for is ultimately changed.

    All same I really like the piece, and listened to it several times last night.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • à la Pitoni's Cantate Domino

    Actually this very nice piece was reminiscent to me of Omni die dic Mariae by Gorczycki.
    One critique I would have is that you have structured the piece with 4 sentences, ABAC, and each cadentially proceeds V-I.
    It would be nice to have more cadential or rhythmic variety in the B and C sections. Otherwise it can sound like A A' A A". That said, maybe the simplicity is the piece's genius and utility.
  • Liam, this is an interesting observation. As I mentioned above, I did conceive of this as a very simple piece (my choir is currently struggling, having lost three strong singers recently, being left primarily with a small group of singers who are not able to sing quite as they used to, as they age…) but perhaps I took it too far. I deliberately baked in the repeats so that way you get twice the mileage out of the beginning material (I love pieces where you learn the music once but get to sing it twice) but perhaps I should not have derived the coda from the preceding sections… the coda was an application of the same principal (you know the notes, just alter the text). And, mind you, I also kept it deliberately short. Again, this was to keep it within very modest bounds.

    So, to be clear, this is not my magnum opus, lol. Perhaps it will still find utility among groups who need more modest fare; people just need to understand it for what it is when they schedule it.
  • Believe me, I get it.
    This is quite nice as is.
    Another idea- I think it would work well to interpolate the whole hymn or just the verses ofVeni Veni Emmanuel with its traditional melody as verses, and make the whole piece a refrain. Or you could have ad lib solo verses of the Veni Emmanuel texts kind of like the "Tempus ad est gratiae" section of Gaudete Christus Est Natus
  • I do quite like the idea of interpolating Veni Emmanuel... You're really good about doing that in your compositions, and I love it because you can perfectly tailor the length of your compositions to any given liturgical moment.