Sunday 31st October
Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611) was arguably the greatest composer of the 16th century Spanish ‘golden age’. He began his training as a chorister at Avila Cathedral and when his voice broke he travelled to Rome, where he was to remain for twenty years holding a variety of prestigious posts. He took holy orders in 1575, and was appointed to his first chaplaincy three years later. The fact that Victoria’s musical output was relatively small by the standards of his contemporaries is explained in the constant revisions he made to his works. The Missa O quam gloriosum is a ‘parody mass’ in that it is based on a motet of the same title, in this instance Victoria’s own motet. Published in 1572, Victoria’s motet O quam gloriosum is a setting of the Antiphon at Vespers for All Saints’ Day.
O quam gloriosum est regnum,
in quo cum Christo gaudent omnes Sancti!
Amicti stolis albis,
sequuntur Agnum, quocumque ierit.
O how glorious is the kingdom,
wherein all the saints rejoice in Christ.
Clothed in white robes
they follow the Lamb, wherever he shall lead.
Sir Ernest Bullock’s (1890-1979) first major post was as organist of Westminster Abbey. He was successively Professor of Music at Glasgow University, the Principal of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and finally the Royal College of Music. The anthem Give us the wings of faith was first published in 1925 and is now well established in the repertoire of many choral foundations. Bullock presents the text concisely, yet with great sincerity and surges of drama where the text calls for it. This anthem is one of the anthems recorded on our CD Hope Soars Above.
Give us the wings of faith to rise
Within the veil, and see
The saints above, how great their joys,
How bright their glories be.
We ask them whence their victory came,
They, with one united breath,
Ascribe the conquest to the Lamb,
Their triumph to his death.
They marked the footsteps that he trod,
His zeal inspired their breast,
And, following their incarnate God,
They reached their promised rest.