The classic Latin chant about Christmas, O Magnum Mysterium, has been set to music by many distinguished composers over the centuries, ranging from Palestrina to John Harbison. Morten Lauridsen’s 1994 version has since gone on to be a modern-day classic and the best selling chorale octavo ever sold by the Theodore Presser Company.
As absolutely amazing as the Lauridsen motet is — especially as sung by the Los Angeles Master Chorale, who also happened to sing the world premiere of the work — my favorite continues to be the one by Tomás Luis de Victoria composed about 400 years earlier. Enjoy this performance by The Cambridge Singers, and have a very Merry Christmas!
- O magnum mysterium, et admirabile sacramentum,
- ut animalia viderent Dominum natum, jacentem in praesepio!
- Beata Virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt portare Dominum Christum.
- 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.