Use: Marian, Lent
Required Resources: SSATBB choir
Before he was named bishop of the Dioceses of Wheeling-Charleston, The Most Reverend Michael J. Bransfield was rector for many years at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC.
Recognizing the bishop's strong devotion to Mary, several years ago the Diocesan Liturgical Commission, and particularly the Music Committee, organized a concert in his honor at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Wheeling WV.
Choral motets were commissioned by the diocese from eight prominent American composers, using the texts for the traditional Marian antiphons of Compline, both in Latin and in English.
Dr. Peter Latona, Director of Music at the National Shrine, led his basilica choir in all eight motets during the evening's concert.
This setting of Ave Regina cælorum is the commissioned offering of Dr. Latona for this project.
This refined neo-Renaissance motet for a cappella six-part choir (SSATBB) maximizes the common choral situation of more sopranos than altos, and more basses than tenors.
Well balanced choirs, however, can easily divide the women and the men into three equal parts each; the Soprano 2 line is singable by altos, and the Bass 1 line is singable by tenors.
Frequent alternation of female and male voices hints at a "double choir" effect.
While written mostly in homophonic style, the composer often spins a melismatic line in one voice, accompanied by the other two.
From many years at the helm of the Shrine's music program, Dr. Latona is a master of the "spacious" choral sound, writing for ranges and vocal placement that would make any choir sound "large."
His superb skill in composition is demonstrated by the proficient modulations that occur, the piece beginning in g minor, and traveling smoothly through b minor, A-flat Major, and E Major, back to g minor.
A translation of the Latin text, used as the Marian antiphon at Night Prayer (Compline) from February 2 throughout Lent follows:
Hail, O Queen of Heaven.
Hail, O Lady of Angels.
Hail! thou root, hail! thou gate
From whom unto the world, a light has arisen.
Rejoice, O glorious Virgin,
Lovely beyond all others,
Farewell, most beautiful maiden,
And pray for us to Christ.
Order #: 5291
- Choral Music
- SATB Choir
- a cappella