Looking for a motet/anthem (Latin or English) for Transfiguration
  • This creeps up on me every year! The Episcopal Church has the Transfiguration Gospel on the last Sunday of Epiphany in the RCL, and I have yet to find a motet or anthem for 3-4 voices that I like and that ends up being useful. My choir seems to be stricken every year with seasonal illness or other family things, and the one piece I like (Craig Courtney's Transfiguration) really needs the full complement of voices. Something reasonably straight-forward. We have sung the hymn "Christ upon the mountain peak" from The Hymnal 1982 as the anthem (the church has the 'one true hymnal' as the rector jokes, i.e., The Hymnal 1940, in the pews) and a setting by John Bertalot that just didn't do anything for anyone.

    Charles and Kathy, Francis, any other composers out there: anything rattling around in your sketchbooks/files?

    Both newly-composed and older pieces would be welcome.

    And since the real Feast of the Transfiguration is in August when many lofts are, shall we say, less than fully staffed, I think an easy/flexible motet in English or Latin or both would be very, very useful. :-)
  • Mark P.
    Posts: 248
    Thomas Tallis' "O nata lux" comes to mind as does the setting by Morten Lauridsen. The text is an office hymn for Transfiguration in the Sarum rite. I realize that both of these might be challenging.

    The preeminent Anglican anthem for Transfiguration is "Christ Whose Glory Fills the Skies" by T. Frederick H. Candlyn. It also may be too hard.

    Sorry I couldn't come up with a simpler setting.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,444
    In my CanticaNOVA collection, which includes reprint rights with purchase, there is a hymn for the Transfiguration: Jesus, Walking to His City. It incorporates the idea of the mountain as it figures in the lives of Moses and Elijah, and the mount Tabor which outshines them all because it is Christ himself who shines. The last verse goes:

    To the dazzling heights of wonder, call us, too, O Christ, today.
    Let us see the hope of glory shining on our pilgrim way.
    Lead us through Your crucifixion to the bright and lasting day.

    It can be sung to Regent Square. Colin Brumby has also composed an original hymn tune for it which is very nice as well.
  • Mark--we do know the Tallis and like it a lot, but it's one of the motets that's been hampered by absences. The full choir is 4-2-1-2, and if the one tenor is out or the section leader in any other section, it can get hairy with regard to confidence and/or intonation. The singers are very willing amateurs and a joy to work with, and within their comfort zone they do a lovely job (Tudor/Renaissance/Baroque small works/classical/modern if accompanied and sized for them). They also are familiar with Lauridsen, as I am always sending them links to things to which to listen, and we all would love to sing his music, but the group is too small to do them justice.

    Kathy--that's exactly the sort of thing I am looking for--thank you!
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,605
    Year B has this Gospel for Lent II, so I've been thinking about Tallis as well, maybe up a tone. It's tricky with mixed voices... In the past I've used O wondrous type to Monteverdi's Deus tuorum militum as an SAB anthem, with and without violins. The CM pieces of Lassus' Hymnarium were adapted to various other uses; I see that Quicumque Christum quaeritis is listed as the office hymn for Transfiguration, and that Victoria's SATB setting is on cpdl.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,605
    Update: I'm almost ready to upload Lasso's Quicumque and O Nata Lux to cpdl. But first, does anyone have an English version of the doxology "Gloria tibi Domine qui apparuisti hodie cum Patre_et Sancto Spiritu in sempiterna saecula" that would fit with the style of Martin Pope's 1905 translation " Lift up your eyes whoe're ye be"?
  • CGM
    Posts: 589
    There's a wonderful piece by the Armenian-American composer Alan Hovhaness called "And As They Came Down," for tenor soloist and SATB choir a cappella. It's in four brief sections, the last being an Alleluia. We often sing it for the second Sunday of Lent, which has the Transfiguration Gospel, and substitute "Amen, amen" for the "Alleluia"s in that last section.

    It's an excellent piece in a quasi-Renaissance style, nice counterpoint, very singable for the choir (as long you've got a good tenor soloist!):
    Thanked by 1Patricia Cecilia
  • The texts in these Lent II/Transfiguration choral propers are appropriate; the style and difficulty level may or may not be what you're after, though:

  • CGM--thank you for pointing out the Hovhaness; I'll have to check it out. Have you ever done his "From the Ends of the Earth"? I think it is a wonderful piece.

    Aris--thank you as well. I am using your psalm setting for Lent I--I'll post about it separately.
    Thanked by 1Aristotle Esguerra
  • I have just received permission from Gary Penkala to post my simple anthem version of Kathy's "Jesus, walking to His city"--lovely, lovely text from the anthology Kathy has written, "Hymns for the Liturgical Year" which she mentioned above. Her text, when coupled with Picardy just rattled around in my head until I had to write out what I was hearing.

    The arrangement is a simple one--it's imagined as SAB+descant but could be used as 2-part or even a unison setting.

    Kathy, there are several other texts in there that have struck a chord (pun intended) that will probably see daylight at some point. Thank you for sharing your gift with us and the Church.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen ngsc
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,444
    I'd rather forgotten about this, although it was only last year! Perhaps others will have too. Happy Feast Day!
  • When I come back from camp, I'll give it a stab, if you like?

    God bless,

  • There's a strong setting of "Christ Upon the Mountain Peak" by Paul Bouman. It was published by Concordia but is no longer on their website... must be out of print, but it's a worthy setting if you can find a loaner or pay for copyright permission. Would work well in an Episcopal setting because it has "Alleluias," but unfortunately couldn't be used in a Catholic setting since transfiguration is always Lent 2 (no Alleluias in Lent)... unless you have a choir present for Transfiguration on the weekday feast day, August 6.
  • Here's an arrangement I made of Tallis's O Nata Lux for SATB if it helps. Please excuse the messy manuscript!
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,444