Hodie Christus natus est
is a double choir (SSAB+ATTB) motet that comes from Palestrina’s third volume of motets published in Venice in 1575. The motet is based on the text of the Magnificat antiphon at Second Vespers on Christmas Day, interspersed with the traditional Christmas cries of ‘noe, noe’. This is a wonderful piece of writing which brilliantly exploits the possibilities of effective contrast: by using the differing sonorities of a high choir and a low choir; by setting off slow-moving passages expressing the solemnity of the celebration of Christ’s birth against rapid antiphonal exchanges of joyful cries of ‘noe, noe’; by using running passages to reflect the singing of the angels and the rejoicing of the archangels and the just; and by reserving until the concluding section of the motet the use of triple time for the final joyful exchanges of ‘noe’.
from notes by Jon Dixon © 2003