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Nesciens Mater (2023)


For voices (SATBBB)

Composed for Antiquum Documentum


First performance by Antiquum Documentum at Keble College Chapel, November 23, 2023

Commissioned by Antiquum Documentum

Text: Nesciens Mater (votive antiphon)

Duration: 6 minutes

Inspired by the writing of Taverner, Mouton and Tallis, Nesciens Mater is a setting of the votive antiphon to the Virgin Mary. Upon first reading the text I was struck by its feminist themes of resilience and strength and, drawing from the imagery of a mother bearing the regem angelorum (‘king of angels’), the composition pays homage to Renaissance polyphony.


The music opens with a dark, chant-like figure, introducing false relations and gradually-evolving polyphonic textures, as accumulating lines undergo modal and rhythmic transformation. The pinnacle of the music emphasises ‘angelorum’, welcoming the saviour of the world into heaven. Throughout, the focal point remains the grace of the virgin mother and child.

Nesciens Mater

Nesciens mater virgo virum
peperit sine dolore
salvatorem saeculorum.

Ipsum regem angelorum
sola virgo lactabat,
ubere de caelo pleno.

Knowing no man,

the Virgin mother bore,

without pain,

the Saviour of the world.

Him, the king of angels,

only the Virgin suckled,

breasts filled by heaven.


Nesciens Mater
full score

note: all orders are digital (.pdf) unless otherwise stated

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