Most major feasts have two celebrations of Vespers: first Vespers on the Eve of the Feast and second Vespers on the day itself. The texts for First Vespers of Christmas are still much concerned with preparation, with warnings and signs that the day of the Lord is about to appear. Fitting with this imagery is the vigorous and stirring motet for five voices Gaude et laetare
by the Dutch composer, organist and teacher Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562–1621). Starting in a minor key, this precursor to the service proper conjures up the stirring power of Advent before relaxing into a more prayerful welcome to the new King, until it explodes once again as the Cherubim and Seraphim proclaim Christ with the word ‘Sanctus’.
from notes by Andrew Carwood © 2006