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Kyrie 'Gloria tibi Trinitas' : for SATTBB chorus unaccompanied

by Elliott Gyger (1998)

Kyrie 'Gloria tibi Trinitas'


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Kyrie 'Gloria tibi Trinitas' / Elliott Gyger.

Library shelf no. 782.323/GYG 1 [Available for loan]

Work Overview

John Taverner's Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas, like many English masses of its time, lacks a setting of the Kyrie. The omission of this prayer was one of the variants characteristic of the Sarum Rite, a modification of the Roman Catholic liturgy developed at Salisbury Cathedral and prevalent throughout Britain from the 13th century to the middle of the 16th.

This new Kyrie setting takes Taverner's Mass as its starting point, both in making use of the same plainchant melody, and in employing the same vocal forces (SATTBB, with divided sopranos at one point). However, it is not in any sense intended as a pastiche or parody in Taverner's style, and the use of the chant differs substantially from Renaissance cantus firmus technique.

Perhaps the most unusual feature of the setting is that the standard three sections (Kyrie I, Christe, Kyrie II) are heard not successively, but cumulatively. Kyrie I, for the full choir, consists entirely of block chords; at first the chant is embedded in the middle, but as the chords descend in register it gradually works its way up to the top of the texture. A reduced version of Kyrie I (in the altos and tenors) is then heard under the Christe in divided sopranos, which is simply an embellished version of the chant transposed up a fifth. Finally, these two layers are combined with Kyrie II, which takes the form of a series of rhythmically energized fragments of the chant, sung in close canon (in up to four parts) by the tenors and basses. The strikingly disparate musical characters juxtaposed in the piece reflect something of the multiplicity of nuances that may be read into the simple prayer for mercy.

Work Details

Year: 1998

Instrumentation: SATTBB choir.

Difficulty: Advanced — Good amateur.

First performance: by Simon Halsey, Sydney Philharmonia Motet Choir — 19 Sep 98. St James Church, Sydney

Text: Ordinary of the Mass.


Performances of this work

19 Sep 98: St James Church, Sydney. Featuring Simon Halsey, Sydney Philharmonia Motet Choir.

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