The five-voice motet Veni Sancte Spiritus
, published along with the Te decet hymnus
, takes over from plainchant the opening melody in descending thirds of the invocation to the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The syllabic style sometimes accentuates the prosody (‘et tui amoris’), while runs are used to convey the lightness of the Holy Spirit and the jubilation of the Alleluia. Not only does the head-motif follow a descending curve, but the five voices enter successively from cantus to bassus: this expressive device allows us to ‘hear’ the Holy Spirit descending on the faithful. The spiritual union granted to them despite their diversity of language is twice symbolized by homophony in three voices on the words ‘gentes in unitate fidei congregasti’.
from notes by Bénédicte Even-Lassmann © 2011
English: Charles Johnston