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Experience the majesty of Mozart

Of the many pieces comprising Oriana’s “Lux Aeterna” concert series, one of the loveliest, if not the loveliest, is Mozart’s setting of “Ave Verum Corpus”, which means, when translated into English, “Hail, True Body”.

“Ave Verum Corpus” is a short Eucharistic chant, dating from the fourteenth century, and attributed to Pope Innocent the Sixth. During the Middle Ages it was sung at the moment of elevating the bread being consecrated for Holy Communion. It is a meditation on the doctrine of trans-substantiation, and the belief that the bread of the Eucharist is transformed into the actual body of Christ.

Ave Verum Corpus - Oriana Choir presents "Lux Aeterna"

The original Latin text is:

Ave verum corpus, natum de Maria Virgine, vere passum, immolatum in cruce pro homine cuius latus perforatum fluxit aqua et sanguine: esto nobis praegustatum in mortis examine. O Iesu dulcis, O Iesu pie O Iesu, fili Mariae. Miserere mei. Amen.

The English translation is:

Hail, true Body, born of the Virgin Mary, having truly suffered, sacrificed on the cross for mankind, from whose pierced side water and blood flowed: Be for us a foretaste [of the Heavenly banquet] in the trial of death! O sweet Jesus, O holy Jesus, O Jesus, son of Mary, have mercy on me. Amen.

It has been set to music by a number of other composers, including William Byrd, Sir Edward Elgar and Camille Saint-Saens. Tchaikovsky adapted Mozart’s version instrumentally, as part of his tribute to Mozart, “Mozartiana”.

Mozart’s setting of “Ave Verum Corpus” is tantalisingly brief. Like some other versions, it omits the final lines, ending with “in mortis examine”. Its brevity, paradoxically, only serves to enhance the beauty of the piece, which is unique. Every time I sing this divine piece of music, I get to the end wishing it would go on. But part of its perfection is its brevity, leaving one wishing for more. If it were longer, it would no longer be the perfect piece that it is. Yet another reason why Mozart deserves our undying gratitude.

Come and hear Oriana’s “Lux Aeterna”, and experience, among the many musical delights, the wonder that is “Ave Verum Corpus”.

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