The names of four ‘doctors’ of the Western Church, founding fathers of doctrinal thinking, emerged in the early Middle Ages: St Ambrose, St Augustine, St Gregory the Great and St Jerome. Their company has been enlarged over the centuries by the addition of other ecclesiastical authors and pre-eminent theologians, from St Thomas Aquinas during the time of the Council of Trent to St Thérèse of Lisieux in the late 1990s. The Roman Catholic liturgy includes an Office of Doctors, complete with the antiphon to the Magnificat at Vespers, O Doctor optime
. The antiphon’s text can be emended to carry the name of any given Doctor of the Church. Jackson’s O Doctor optime
enlists and adapts aspects of medieval practice, a tenor cantus firmus carrying the Gregorian plainsong appropriate to the Office prominent among them. Silence introduces richer, deeper textures, supported by five homophonic voice parts that chart the ebb and flow of a heartfelt plea to God’s son.
from notes by Andrew Stewart © 2013