The motet O magnum mysterium
(published in 1572) has been a favourite of choirs ever since the revival of Victoria’s music eighty years ago. Although the original publication entitles it In Circuncisione Domini
, its text is taken from a responsory of Christmas Matins and its use has always been as a Christmas motet. One of Victoria’s most endearing creations, it unfolds serenely, richly warm when it expresses the wonder that even the animals behold the Infant in the manger. Then a wonderful hush as Victoria musically caresses ‘O beata Virgo’. The final ‘Alleluia’ dances in triple time and then, with a welter of running notes, comes grandly to a close. The work is set for four-part choir (SATB).
from notes by Bruno Turner © 1985