is a motet for the fourth Sunday of Advent. The first part of this five-voice motet draws its text from the first and third antiphons at Vespers; and the second part, ‘Rorate caeli desuper’, takes its text from the Introit at Mass on the fourth Sunday of Advent, combined with text from the First Responsory of the Ordinary of Advent and its first verse. The motet was first published in Venice in 1572 in Palestrina’s second book of motets for five, six and eight voices. As befits its opening words, ‘Sound the trumpet in Sion, for the day of the Lord is nigh’, the motet begins strongly in an extrovert manner, turning to a more reflective and polyphonic style at the words ‘come, O Lord, and be not tardy’, and ending the first part with an expressive outpouring of joyous Alleluias. The second half begins more quietly with a reduced voice section, but soon reverts to vigorous five-part writing which comes to a dramatic pause at a section headed ‘Show us thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us thy salvation’. This is followed by a more polyphonic section, expressing beautifully the pleading tone of the words ‘come, O Lord, and be not tardy’, which uses and elaborates on material from the similar section in the first part. The motet concludes with another joyful burst of Alleluias, the musical material from the end of the first part being slightly reworked.
from notes by Jon Dixon © 2003