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Works

Morning Star

2007

Scored for

mixed choir (SATB) a cappella

Duration

3 min

Short description

In 2003 Arvo Pärt was awarded an honorary doctorate by Durham University in England. A few years later, in 2007, he composed Morning Star, an a cappella piece for mixed choir to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Durham University.

Morning Star is based on the prayer inscribed above the tomb monument of St. Bede in the Durham Cathedral. St. Bede was a Benedictine monk and scholar from the 7th and 8th centuries who wrote Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, one of the most important works on the history of the church in England. The remains of the saint found their resting place in Durham in 1022. The current tomb monument was completed in the 19th century, but in 1970, one of St. Bede’s prayer texts was inscribed in stone, both in Eng…

In 2003 Arvo Pärt was awarded an honorary doctorate by Durham University in England. A few years later, in 2007, he composed Morning Star, an a cappella piece for mixed choir to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Durham University.

Morning Star is based on the prayer inscribed above the tomb monument of St. Bede in the Durham Cathedral. St. Bede was a Benedictine monk and scholar from the 7th and 8th centuries who wrote Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, one of the most important works on the history of the church in England. The remains of the saint found their resting place in Durham in 1022. The current tomb monument was completed in the 19th century, but in 1970, one of St. Bede’s prayer texts was inscribed in stone, both in English and Latin, which gave Arvo Pärt the inspiration for composing his Morning Star.

The song begins with the sopranos singing the word “Christ” with a motif based on thirds, which is opposed by the reciting character of the rest of the voices singing “Christ is the Morning Star.” The text “…when the night of this world is past…” is repeated four times, creating an ever-densifying texture that culminates in the words “…brings to his saints the promise of the light of life and opens everlasting day…” The musical passage in A minor instilling peace and hope finally resolves to A major.

The composition was premiered in December 2007 at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London by the Durham University Choir conducted by Jeremy Dibble.

World premiere

10.12.2007
St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London, England, United Kingdom

Concert: A service to celebrate the occasion of the 175th anniversary of the University of Durham

Jeremy Dibble (conductor), Durham University Choir

Completion year

2007

Commissioned by

Durham University on the occasion of its 175th anniversary in 2007

Scored for

mixed choir (SATB) a cappella

Duration

3 min

Publishers

Universal Edition

Language

English

Vocal text

Prayer above the tomb of St Bede in Durham Cathedral

Christ is the morning star,
who when the night of this world is past
brings to his saints the promise of the light of life
and opens everlasting day.

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