The O Antiphons

The O Antiphons


short settings of these classic Advent antiphons for SATB chorus and organ

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Completed: October 2014.
Duration: ca. 24’.
Commissioned by The Lutheran Church of Honolulu, Honolulu, Hawai’i for premiere on November 30th, 2014.
Dedicated to Miguel Felipe and the Choir of the Lutheran Church of Honolulu.

Program Note

My setting of the O Antiphons climbs out of silence with a chant emanating from a single B-flat. One by one, every pitch of the scale is piled in, forming a dense sonority that melts into a joyful first movement. After that, each O Antiphon appears in the same order of keys as in the initial seven-note pileup.

The mystery of the second antiphon,“O Adonai,” is diffused by the sweetness of the third,“O Root of Jesse.” The fourth,“O Key of David,” takes the form of a raucous canon, which leads into its polar opposite, a richly melodic setting of the fifth, “O Dayspring.” Finally, a bombastic setting of the sixth antiphon, “O King of the Nations,” rockets into the final movement, “O Emmanuel.” Beginning softly and growing to a warm climax, this then melts away into chant, returning to the piece’s opening build-up. As we lie in wait for the arrival of the child, the tension builds, and notes pile on. After a final anxious crescendo, the chorus and organ fall into hushed unison, noting with awe the humble arrival of Christ.