O Magnum Mysterium is a new setting of an ancient Christmas hymn. The beautiful Latin text reflects on the mystery that lowly animals should be present at the birth of Jesus and that our King should be born to a young virgin.
The text is rather brief, so each phrase is stretched out to make long, flowing phrases. The emphasis of this piece is more in creating effects with harmony as opposed to establishing a recognizable melody. There are also various shifts between major and minor in order to create a sense of mystery and wonder.
O Magnum Mysterium sounds best when sung a cappella, though the inclusion of a piano or organ makes a lovely addition to this reverent piece. With the through-composed nature of the piece, this is a more complex and robust piece, however, the smooth part-writing ensures that each vocal line is singable and readable.
My hope is that this arrangement of this ancient text gives your choir an accessible, yet haunting rendition of this ancient mystery. Thank you, and blessings on your music-making,
Dustin Shelton, Composer