Swete Jesu (1992) was commissioned by King’s College, Cambridge, for the 1992 Service of Nine Lessons and Carols and first performed by King’s College Choir conducted by Stephen Cleobury on 24 December that year. The anonymous words date from the thirteenth century, Maw considering them a ‘very genuine and personal expression towards Jesus’. After the soothing warmth of the homophonic opening, the tenors take over the melodic line to the accompaniment of vocal melismas. Various voices then share phrases of melody, before the music comes full circle with the return of the opening.
from notes by Andrew Burn © 2007