O Magnum Mysterium

O Magnum Mysterium

O Magnum Mysterium is a responsorial chant from the Matins of Christmas. A number of composers have reworked the chant into a contemporaneous setting; the settings by Byrd, Victoria, Gabrieli, Palestrina, Poulenc, Harbison, Lauridsen and La Rocca are particularly notable. A setting by Peter Maxwell Davies was created for Cirencester Grammar School. The Lauridsen version has also been transcribed for band by H. Robert Reynolds, as has an arrangement for string orchestra, published by string educator Sandra Dackow. Latin text:

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.
Alleluia. English translation:

O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.

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