Required Resources: SATB choir
Language: Latin / English
This motet is dedicated to The Most Reverend Alexander K. Sample and was written when he was Bishop of Marquette.
Bishop Sample was a strong proponent of good liturgy and excellent music, both while he was in Michigan and now in his new home as Archbishop of Portland in Oregon.
The text is His Excellency's episcopal motto: Vultum Christi contemplari.
This translates, "To contemplate the face of Christ," and comes from the writings of [Saint] John Paul II, specifically his 2003 encyclical,
Ecclesia de Eucharistia.
To contemplate the face of Christ, and to contemplate it with Mary, is the ‘programme’ which I have set before the Church at the dawn of the third millennium, summoning her to put out into the deep on the sea of history with the enthusiasm of the new evangelization.
The composer has used a common Renaissance format in setting these words.
The sopranos, altos and basses sing contrapuntal "points of imitation" using the Latin text, while the tenors (whose name means "holding") sing a cantus firmus in long whole notes, using the English translation of the Latin ("Contemplate the face of Christ.").
The part writing is extremely effective and the vocal ranges are quite moderate.
Consider this motet to honor the new saint — Pope John Paul II — who was often seen transfixed in contemplation and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.