Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Astonishing Pyrotechnics of William Byrd

My favorite example of a piece I dearly love but could never sing -- very few parishes could ever pull this off -- is the William Byrd motet for Advent "Vigilate." It's a piece that makes me think that Adam might be right after all.

Vigilate, nescitis enim quando dominus domus veniat, sero, an media nocte, an gallicantu, an mane.
Vigilate ergo, ne cum venerit repente, inveniat vos dormientes.
Quod autem dico vobis, omnibus dico: vigilate.

Watch ye therefore (for you know not when the lord of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock crowing, or in the morning):
Watch therefore, lest coming on a sudden, he find you sleeping.
And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch.

It's all amazing but "ne cum venerit repente" is just wow.

By the way, make your way to the Byrd Festival and hear one of the best Byrd choirs in the world sing this material live!