The third of six brief descriptions of music I’ve written up for WRTI’s 60th Anniversary Classical Collection of listener favorites. Here is a fuller description of the project, under the first post, the Ave Maria of Franz Biebl.

Nativity1480Ghirlandaio480Morten LauridsenO Magnum Mysterium. Elora Festival Singers, Noel Edison. Morten Lauridsen. Naxos 8.559304, Tr 17

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

This text was first chanted by monks in the cold, pre-dawn hours before Christmas mornings centuries ago. Now, the mystical, soaring music of Morten Lauridsen warms millions worldwide. Simple in structure and harmony, yet quietly overwhelming, the Lauridsen O Magnum Mysterium transcends style with its luminously expressive writing. Morten Lauridsen is one of the most-sung choral composers in America and around the world, and this work is a fine example why.

above, from Domenico Ghirlandaio’s 1480s Nativity