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Audivi vocem de caelo venientem
Composed by John Sheppard
Edited by Mitos Andaya
Series Editor: Simon Carrington
Voicing: SSAA a cappella
Catalog number: AMP 0631
John Sheppard (c. 1515-1560)
Relatively little information is known about English composer John Sheppard. He served as Informator Choristarum at Magdalen College, Oxford and was a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal in the 1550s. Though he was a prolific composer of liturgical music, his works have been overshadowed by better-known English composers such as Taverner, Tallis and Byrd.
Audivi vocem de caelo venientem is the eighth respond for the Office of Matins on All Saints Day. This particular setting demonstrates Sheppard's mastery of polyphony and expressive imitation — elements that are present in much of his choral writing.
The slurs in the chant have been altered to clarify the melismas for today's ensembles, rather than to indicate the ligatures of the original chant.
The tenuto marks in the chant are merely indications where a slight relaxation in tempo may enhance the overall effect. Breath marks are also suggested.
Slight ritardandi and a relaxation of the tempo are encouraged in the penultimate bars leading into the closing cadence of each major section.The accidentals above the notes in measures 26, 27, 29, and 30 are editorial suggestions. If taken, the false relation between the G sharp and G natural will create a striking effect often seen and heard in early English Renaissance music. Singers of the day would have added this kind of musica ficta almost on a whim.
TRANSLATION Audivi vocem de caelo venientem: I heard a voice come from heaven: Venite omnes virgines sapientissimae Come all ye most-wise virgins Oleum recondite in vasis vestris, Store up oil in your vessels Dum sponsus advenerit. until the Bridegroom comes. Media nocte clamor factus est: In the middle of the night the cry was made: Ecce sponsus venit. Behold the Bridegroom comes. Oleum recondite in vasis vestris, Store up oil in your vessels Dum sponsus advenerit. until the Bridegroom comes.
recording performed by University of Georgia Women's Glee Club, Athens, Georgia
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