On Sunday we will be singing Lauridsen’s ‘O nata lux’ for the Transfiguration of Jesus, which we celebrate on the last Sunday before Lent in our tradition.
Morten Lauridsen (b. 1943) is a contemporary American composer whose choral writing is an example of the refreshing new style which emerged in the second half of the twentieth century, and has achieved great popularity, particularly through the contributions of Nordic and Baltic composers.
‘O nata lux’ is the unaccompanied central movement of the cycle for orchestra and choir ‘Lux aeterna’, Lauridsen’s exploration of eternal light, or as American choral conductor Timothy Sharp puts it, ‘if light could be set to music …’. The text of ‘O nata lux’ is a hymn for vespers on the Feast of Transfiguration. The composer describes his setting as ‘a serene invocation of heavenly light … a refulgent portrait of spiritual repose’.
The photo shows light streaming in through Pilgrim’s western rose window.
Sources: Timothy Sharp, 2003, ‘Morten Lauridsen’s “Lux Aeterna” – A conductor’s considerations’, The Choral Journal, vol. 43, iss. 7; quote by the composer from Douglas Hassall, 2015, ‘Shining light: The music of Morten Lauridsen’, Quadrant, July-August.