Mirabile Mysterium (2012)

For SATB chorus unaccompanied (in latin); premiered Monday, December 24, 2012, 9:00 p.m. at King's Chapel, Boston under the direction of Heinrich Christensen; performed as part of the service; commissioned by King's Chapel in memory of Reverend Arthur W. Perkins, (1926-2012).

Mirabile Mysterium snipett.jpg

The remarkable St. Sophronius text for Mirabile Mysterium has been used for countless choral settings over the centuries.  In this 2012 setting, I have attempted to capture the sense of mystery and wonder through a direct presentation of the text that is rhythmically straightforward, but with tonal manipulations that bring the listener through unexpected harmonic territories.  Using very soft dynamics throughout the exposition of the Sophronius text, tightly voiced chords and step-wise vocal lines lead into dissonances that eventually transition into traditionally tonal, familiar points of arrival and resolution.

Text and translation


Mirabile mysterium declaratur hodie,
innovantur naturae:
Deus homo factus est,
id, quod fuit, permansit,
et quod non erat, assumpsit,
non commixtionem passus
neque divisionem.
                                          Sophronius of Jerusalem (7th c.)

A great and wondrous mystery is made known to us this day;
a new thing is wrought in both natures:
God is made man;
that which was remained,
and that which was not he assumed;
suffering neither confusion
nor division.