Infant Jesus, Vox Clara Ecce Intonat
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Vox Clara Ecce Intonat – Drake

For the Infant Jesus

Our parish is embarking on a capital campaign to raise funds for a larger church to accommodate our growing community.  Our pastor has placed the building project in the hands of the Infant Jesus.  To honor the Infant Jesus and for this same petition, I have composed the following polyphonic setting of the ancient Advent hymn Vox Clara.  The sheet music is available for download at the end of the post (Creative Commons).

 

The Text

I searched for a text in the Breviarium from around the time of Christmas that would honor the coming of the Infant Jesus.  After stumbling across En Clara Vox, I searched for translations (I’m not a Latin scholar) and found Fr. Z’s excellent exposition of the hymn.  Upon reading the post, I resolved to use the more ancient form of the hymn Vox Clara rather than En Clara Vox.

Presently, I have only set the first two verses to music.  One could possibly write the remaining verses in beneath them.  I’ve also thought about writing a future pars secunda with a different melody for the other verses.  That said, available time often limits the number of verses one can sing.

Discussion

As with De Profundis, I kept the voicing simple.  Neither the soprano nor the tenor exceed an F.  The bass is really more of a baritone line, staying at or above B-flat.  The piece does not deviate from the key of B-flat (or the relative G-minor key), and there isn’t even one accidental.

The piece opens with a heralding voice, like a trumpet (repeated in the second verse as the indolent mind being awakened) to rebuke what has deviated from the light.

At the third line of the stanza, we move to G-minor while singing about dreams put to flight.  Sing this section with some marcato to emphasize somnia (if you like that interpretation).  Even without marcato, the last syllable of somnia is held for only one beat.  There is quite a bit of imitation, gradually transitioning to the last line which speaks of Christ coming forth from heaven or the ether.

In the final line, the other parts imitate the theme introduced by the soprano, eventually moving us back to B-flat and a major sound.  A significant ritardando starts at beat 2 of measure 34 to bring the voices into a nice resolution.

Start the second verse a tempo.

Conclusion

Please download the piece.  Let me know in the comment box if you have any thoughts or feedback or if you are singing any of my compositions.

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4 thoughts on “Vox Clara Ecce Intonat – Drake

  1. The Infant Jesus will bring great results for your project. No two ways about it.

    Please keep us informed of the success of your project.

    • Thank you for your kind words. Naturally, there are many others much more involved in the building project than I am. I just hope this is a way I can contribute.

  2. I could see this presented as an Offertory hymn during Sunday Mass in Advent…..is that what you have in mind? Well performed, I’d like to think this composition is something that a modern Catholic congregation might appreciate hearing, whetting the appetite for Renaissance-style polyphony. (Thanks for keeping the tenor part within the realm of amateurs like me!)

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