Lauda Sion salvatorem
is the sequence, composed by St Thomas Aquinas, for the Feast of Corpus Christi. It is one of only five sequences which survived the weeding out of the Council of Trent. In the Roman liturgy it is sung at Mass on this Feast Day and survives in the Anglican liturgy as a communion hymn. Victoria’s brilliant eight-part setting was published first in 1585 in Rome by Alessandro Gardane and subsequently in 1600 in Madrid by Ioannes Flandrum. Victoria sets verses 1, 2, 5, 12 and 23 of Aquinas’s twenty-four-verse poem in constant antiphonal exchanges between two equal-voiced choirs. The music begins quietly with the first choir presenting the opening phrase of the plainsong in the soprano line, but soon the second choir intervenes with a lovely falling third in the top part at the words ‘Lauda ducem’, and there follows a rapid series of exchanges illustrating the words ‘In hymnis et canticis’. The second verse of the hymn is set to the same music as the first. The next section, beginning with the words ‘Sit laus plena’, sets verses 5 and 12 of the text to music of almost madrigalian lightness and vivacity with much exciting rapid movement and syncopation. This leads to a setting of verse 23 of the poem, which opens in a gentle swinging triple time and concludes, at the words ‘In terra viventium’, with an extended final section in full eight-part harmony of great energy and sonorousness.
from notes by Jon Dixon © 1996