Christe redemptor omnium
is prescribed in the Antiphonale Monasticum
as a hymn at First Vespers of the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord. It is one of a substantial collection of settings by Palestrina of hymns for seasonal use which was published in 1589 in Rome by Francisco Coattino. This six-part hymn is an alternatim composition—that is, alternate verses of the hymn are set to chant and polyphony, and the prominence of the plainsong in the composition is enhanced by the way that the melody of the chant, or fragments of it, are present in slow notes much of the time in one or other of the voices. This a wonderfully rich composition which uses a great variety of musical techniques to illuminate the meaning of the words, one example of which is the lively triple-time section at the words ‘praising and raising songs of exultation’.
from notes by Jon Dixon © 2003