O Sacrum Convivium
Sarah MacDonald

Composer Sarah MacDonald
Text Attr. to St. Thomas Aquinas
Voicing SATB, a cappella
Topic Communion, Passion
Price $2.25 (U.S.)
Released 6/23
Cat. no. 410-424
Difficulty Mod. Difficult

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Sarah MacDonald has written an atmospheric and solemn setting of Thomas Aquinas's classic Eucharist text. Beginning with a single line, the music increases in harmonic texture and volume (though remains entirely homophonic) to a glorious climax. The Alleluias of the ending return the mood to quiet again. There is no divisi, and the lines move naturally and largely stepwise, making it a not difficult, but highly effective, choice for a communion motet. Commissioned for the Association of Anglican Musician's 2023 conference in Dallas, Texas.

Anthem text
O sacrum convivium!
in quo Christus sumitur:
recolitur memoria passionis eius:
mens impletur gratia:
et futurae gloriae nobis pignus datur.

O sacred banquet!
in which Christ is received,
the memory of his Passion is renewed,
the mind is filled with grace,
and a pledge of future glory to us is given.




review copy

"A repeated rhythmically asymmetric two-measure motif forms the basis of this probing setting of the communion text with Alleluias. An introspective E minor increases the urgency of the 5/4 meter. Cadences avoid any use of leading tones, yet the harmonic pacing is extremely clear. MacDonald's musical rhetoric is unerring throughout, allowing the texture to swell in intensity and then recede into the haunting feel of the opening. Sopranos divide for one chord, although the lower note is shared with altos, obviating the need for the division. Otherwise, the motet is entirely in four voices with conservative ranges and vocal demands. The final iterations of 'alleluia' furnish a gentle denouement as the piece ends pianissimo." --AAM Journal, Jan./Feb. 2024


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