Missa Videte miraculum
is the most celebrated of Ludford’s works, surviving in a single source connected to St Stephen’s, the Caius Choirbook. The plainchant ‘Videte miraculum’ is the Vespers Respond for the Marian feast of the Purification (Christ’s presentation in the temple, otherwise called Candlemas). This six-voice setting includes two treble parts of equivalent range, generating an opulent texture with expanded tessitura. Rhythmic intricacy in the treble-writing (‘Domine Deus, Agnus Dei’ in the Gloria), and frequently high tessitura (both instances of the Osanna), are both testament to the standard of choirboys at Ludford’s disposal. Unusually, the cantus firmus migrates from one voice to another between sections in each movement. Again, Ludford’s sensitivity to the text is characterized by the use of distinctive vocal groupings, reduced and reassembled to give resonance to particular words, such as the intimate diminution of voices and tessitura at ‘Et incarnatus est’, moving to a lower grouping at ‘Crucifixus’, and in the Gloria the excited re-accumulation of vocal forces, one by one, from ‘Cum Sancto Spiritu’ to the final Amen. The composer introduces an alternative cantus firmus for the Agnus Dei, now adopting the verse (‘Haec speciosum’) for the original Respond, though retaining the same head-motif as the other movements.
from notes by Christian Wilson © 2018