Gaudete

What is it?

Gaudete is my setting - for four voices - of a 14th century Latin plainsong hymn that was popularised in 1972 by the British group Steeleye Span. There are numerous settings of it around but the point - for me at least - is that I wanted to set down what I hear in my head when I think of the melody. It's another example of me being me and that starts with the way I pronounce the words themselves. Romanian is possibly one of the modern languages closest to classical Latin. Having been speaking Romanian since 1990 I tend these days to pronounce Latin as if it were Romanian. I wrote this setting with the cadences of the Romanian language in mind but really you can pronounce it any way you like.

Lyrics

Gaudete! Gaudete, Christus est natus
ex Maria virgine. Gaudete!

Tempus ad est gratiae
hoc quod optabamus
carmina laetitiae
devote redamus

Deus homo factus est
natura mirante
mundus renovatus est
a Christo regnante

Ezechielis porta
clausa per transitur
unde lux est orta
salus invenitur

Ergo nostra cantio
psallat iam in lustro
benedicat Domino
salus Regi nostro

Listen

Learn

It's not unusual for our local church to use one of my shorter and simpler choral pieces at the start of its annual Christmas carol service. In 2017 we decided more or less at the last minute to perform my Advent Antiphon. After the service my friend Ian Gibbons suggested that I should, as he put it, "do Gaudete". I thought, "Why not?"

Almost certainly somebody will ask why yet another setting of Gaudete is necessary and I have a very simple answer to that: it isn't. I wanted to do it because I love the words, the plainsong melody is very much "up my street" and I enjoy doing slightly off-beat things with conventional harmonies. If other folk enjoy it, great, but if not, I'm not going to lose any sleep! This is one of those pieces I've done for myself.

Inverted triads, inverted major seventh chords, a shifting modal base for the harmonies - these are all things that I enjoy and it shows in Gaudete. I don't like slushy harmonies with overdone suspensions and all that typically 20th century English choral sound. This is the song as I sing it in my heart, without regard for convention.

Prague

Prague, my perfect Christmas city!