Required Resources: SATB choir, soprano solo (or children's choir), organ
Saint Bede the Venerable (672-735) authored this beautiful Latin prayer of praise to Christ. It begins, Christus est stella matutina.
The English translation is:
Christ is the Morning Star
who when the night of this world is past
brings to his saints the promise of the light of life
and opens eternity.
Robert Benson's setting begins with a soprano solo (which could also be sung by a children's choir).
The SATB choir then sings delightfully fresh harmonies, with beautifully flowing voice leading.
Phrases are next sung by individual sections (tenor, alto, bass), followed by a little polyphony between men and women.
Dramatic half-note chords on "lucem vitæ" are punctuated by short organ bursts and a solid homophonic cadence.
Echo patterns [alto/bass, soparno/tenor, then women/men] leads to strong chordal quarter note motion.
A return to the fresh harmonies of the opening introduces a triple Alleluia, a dramatic diminuendo, and a soprano solo coda, soaring to a high G and F, over an enriched F major chord in the choir.
Robert Benson, the composer of the work, writes:
You may be interested to know that the dedicatees, Leonard and Linda Benson, were my uncle and aunt.
Leonard was my mother's middle brother (of three).
My mother was a Benson even before she married my father.
Uncle Leonard was a well known archaeologist who taught at various schools, including Wellesley and U. Mass Amherst.
Aunt Linda was British and served as personal secretary to T.S. Eliot during World War II.
They were interesting and often very humorous people who had quite an impact on my life.
I'm very glad to have made this memorial to them, even though no one who performs the anthem may not know that.