Richard Lambert Music

Panis angelicus (Op.24)

A motet for SATB choir and organ setting words by St Thomas Aquinas for the Feast of Corpus Christi

This motet for SATB and organ was composed in 1996. The text is taken from Sacris Solemniis by Thomas Aquinas (c. 1224-1274). Panis angelicus is the Matins hymn for Corpus Christi, the Feast of the Body of Christ, when the Church turns our attention to the gift of the Eucharist.

The music centres ambiguously around the key of E flat major/minor, making persistent use of a downward-leading minor third interval, hence the frequently flattened thirds.

The opening motif is used in various guises throughout the anthem: initially, it is chromatic, and confuses the issue with regard to major or minor tonality. With the appearance of Te trina Deitas, (Oh Godhead three and one) however, the motif is more assertively diatonic.

A rising octave figure is also important, notably on the two appearances of O res mirabilis (O marvellous thing).

The choir comes to rest on a secure E flat major chord, but the short concluding organ phrase persists with the flattened third before it, too, resolves on a more reassuring tierce de Picardie.


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