Friday, December 20, 2013

O Magnum Mysterium, Frank La Rocca

The O magnum mysterium is a one of the most beloved ancient Christmas texts in the Christian tradition. It is properly found in the liturgy as a responsory for Matins of Christmas, but through the choral settings of Victoria, Palestrina, Poulenc, and – perhaps most popularly in our time – Morten Lauridsen, it has become a standard part of the Christmas choral repertoire, especially for Midnight Mass.

Composer Frank La Rocca has now given the Church a setting of his own, which powerfully penetrates the mystery of the incarnation. It is not overly flashy or florid, but is pregnant with mystery and humility, much like text which it carries. His O magnum surely will surely be regarded among the greats for years to come.

O magnum mysterium, et admirabile sacramentum, 
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum, jacentem in praesepio! 
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt portare Dominum Christum. Alleluia.

O great mystery, and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord, lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy to bear Christ the Lord. Alleluia!