Monday, November 26, 2007

Palestrina's Three Miracles

I had occasion today to discuss with someone a wonderful piece by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, princeps musicorum. It is a setting of the Magnificat antiphon for II Vespers of the Feast of the Epiphany. This motet refers to the three miracles that constitute the Epiphany of Christ as God: the adoration of the Magi, the changing of water into wine, and the baptism in the Jordan.

This magnificent work reminds me of a hymn which I like to program during Epiphanytide, Songs of Thankfulness and Praise. This also discusses the three manifestations, and it is one of my favorite hymns. It is usually sung to the tune Salzburg, which is commonly used for "At the Lamb's High Feast."

Last week a few of us commented that Epiphany gets lost in the mania that surrounds Christmas, and it's not just January 6 (Well of course, this feast has been Sunday-fied in many places.) that gets lost, but also the fact that there are three manifestations of the Epiphany. It doesn't help, of course, that the Sunday Lectionary discusses all three manifestations only once every three years. Nevertheless, when that happy occasion presents itself, I am always sure to program Songs of Thankfulness and Praise on all three weeks.

Now I will be adding this glorious motet to the mix in certain situations.

And who knows. Maybe, to borrow Jeffrey's phrase, I'll dump this hymn entirely and let the Palestrina do all the talking.

Relax. I'm only kidding.

Or maybe not...


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