Advent Calendar Day 5: Rorate Caeli – Weir

Our last Rorate Caeli brings us into the 20th century, via the early Middle Ages.  This setting is by Judith Weir, and was written in 1983.  She uses the melody from the Gregorian chant as her base, then adds in harmonies that are very much 20th century, but give another nod to the Middle Ages with their open fifths.

I have to say, I absolutely love this – my only complaint is that it is far too short, and I want more…

… which is what sent me down the 20th century Rorate Caeli rabbit hole to this very modern Rorate by Leo Nestor, composed in 2011.  This is another composition that uses the plain chant as a starting point, but it has a completely different feel – one I associate with American close harmony singing.  There’s a little bit of jazz to the harmonies, and a fairly fabulous bottom D for the basses.  I don’t love it as much as the Weir, but it’s an interesting addition to the genre.

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