Opus 1167

Verbum supernum prodiens (2016)

for Voices (in three spatially-separated groups) and Organ

Text from Liturgia Horarum (in Latin)

Harvard University Choir; Edward Elwyn Jones, conductor

Duration: 3.5 min.

Dedication: in memoriam Pauline Oliveros (1932–2016)

Commission: Commissioned by The Memorial Church, Harvard University

Publisher: Zimbel Press/Subito Music Corp.

Performance materials available from the publisher.

This work is intended for performance in a reverberant space with the three groups of voices spatially separated around the audience. (The above live stereo recording cannot truly capture this “surround sound” balance that happens in a live performance space.)

Verbum supernum prodiens (2016) was written for the 107th Annual Christmas Carol Services of The Memorial Church, Harvard University, December 2016. It is dedicated to the memory of composer Pauline Oliveros (1932–2016). Subtitled “a chantscape,” the music is an atmospheric evocation of the text through chant-like music that builds to the end.

Verbum supernum prodiens
a Patre lumen exiens,
qui natus orbi subvenis
cursu declivi temporis:

Illumina nunc pectora
tuoque amore concrema;
audita per praeconia
sint pulsa tandem lubrica.

A solis ortus cardine
adusque terrae limitem
Christum canamus Principem,
natum Maria Virgine.

Beatus auctor saeculi
servile corpus induit,
ut carne carnem liberans
non perderet quod condidit.

Celestial Word, to this our earth
sent down from God’s eternal clime,
to save mankind by mortal birth
into a world of change and time;

Lighten our hearts, vain hopes destroy;
and in Thy love’s consuming fire
Fill all the soul with heavenly joy,
and melt the dross of low desire.

From lands that see the sun arise,
to earth’s remotest boundaries,
the Virgin-born today we sing,
the Son of Mary, Christ the King.

Blest Author of this earthly frame,
to take a servant’s form he came,
that liberating flesh by flesh,
whom he had made might live afresh.

Latin from Liturgia Horarum
St. 1 & 2, English translation by William John Courthope (1842–1917)
St. 3 & 4, English translation by John Mason Neale (1818–1866)