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O magnum mysterium, by Adrian Willaert (c. 1490​-​1562)

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Christmas responsory motet composed by Adrian Willaert (c. 1490 – 1562)

Of the many effective historical settings of the text, O magnum mysterium, Adrian Willaert's four-voice motet has become our favorite. Published in Motetti libro secondo in 1539, Willaert's motet captures the spirit of the great mystery with angelic awe and gentle reverence. Willaert was a friend to plucked instruments, having arranged and published the music of Philippe Verdelot's first book of madrigals for the combination of solo voice and lute.

Our unique arrangement is inspired by Willaert's gift for deftly weaving together attractive melodic lines that gently support the cantus, and our interpretation features solo voice, lute and harp to channel the calm reverence of the text without the distraction of competing vocalization of the lower parts.


O magnum mysterium
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum
jacentem in praesepio.

Beata Virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt
portare Dominum Jesum Christum.

Ave Maria, gratia plena: Dominus tecum.

Beata Virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt
portare Dominum Jesum Christum.

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.

Hail Mary, full of grace: the Lord is with you.

Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear Christ the Lord.


from Magnum Mysterium: Advent & Christmas music for lute & voice, released November 1, 2016
Arranged from the original source by Ron Andrico, Mignarda Editions
Performed live by Mignarda, Donna Stewart, voice and Ron Andrico, lute, with Frederick Lautzenheiser, harp.



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Mignarda Danby, New York

Mignarda specializes in thoughtful programming illuminating the vibrant mingling of renaissance music & poetry. Noted for awakening modern audiences to an appreciation for historical music, their work encompasses concertizing, teaching & recording, with ten critically-acclaimed CDs, a series of 12 music editions, scholarly articles, reviews and the internationally-popular blog, Unquiet Thoughts. ... more

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