In the eight-part motets Spiritus Sanctus
and Veni Sancte Spiritus
, Palestrina takes the antiphonal writing implicit in Dum complerentur
to its logical conclusion, using the two groups in alternation to provide dramatic textural contrasts and achieving magnificent climactic moments by bringing them together again. This is particularly striking in Veni Sancte Spiritus
(a setting of the sequence from Pentecost, from the 1575 book of motets), in which one group is composed of higher voices, the other of lower. The strophic imploring of the text is marvellously conveyed by these means. Note, for example, the alternation of the choirs at ‘Consolator optime, dulcis hospes animae, dulce refrigerium’, and the massive full climax conveying the ‘perenne gaudium’ of the final line of the text—perfect liturgical theatre.
from notes by Ivan Moody © 2003