Choral music for Easter, Part III — Guerrero, Maria Magdalena et altera Maria

In 2018, our choir had the pleasure of bringing into our celebration of the Resurrection a wonderfully delicate and evocative composition by the Spanish composer Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599). Well, we actually only sang the first half of the work, as the complete work takes around 7 minutes to sing, which makes it a bit long for an Offertory in our service.

The work is called Maria Magdalene et altera (Mary Magdalen and the other Mary). It describes the visit to the tomb of the women who were the first people to learn about the Resurrection.

Here is the text of the first part of the motet:

Maria Magdalene et altera Maria emerunt aromata
     Mary Magdalene and the other Mary brought spices
ut venientes ungerent Iesum.
     so that they might anoint Jesus’ body.
Et valde mane una Sabbatorum
     And very early on the Sabbath,
veniunt ad monumentum
     they came to the tomb,
orto iam sole. Alleluia.
     just after sunrise. Alleluia.

The second part of the motet completes the story:

Et introeuntes in monumentum
     Entering the tomb,
viderunt iuvenem sedentem in dextris
     they saw a young man sitting on the right side
coopertum stola candida
     dressed in a white robe,
et obstupuerunt.
     and they were amazed.
Qui dicit illis:
     He said to them:
“Iesum quem queritis Nazarenum cruxifixum:
     “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified:
surrexit, non est hic.
     he has risen, he is not here.
Ecce locus ubi posuerunt eum.” Alleluia.
     Look, there is the place they laid him.” Alleluia.

Here is a recording of the ensemble Stile Antico singing the entire motet. This recording is from their album Passion and Resurrection, the cover of which is depicted below.

About this recording

Stile Antico’s seventh recording focuses on the dramatic events of Holy Week, retracing in music the journey from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. Twelve different composers are represented in an enthralling program encompassing the English, Flemish, and Spanish Renaissance. At the heart of the disc are twin settings of the mediaeval carol Woefully Arrayed: one by William Cornysh (1465-1523), and one commissioned in 2009 especially for Stile Antico by British composer John McCabe (b. 1939) and recorded here for the first time. Also included are: Francisco Guerrero, Maria Magdalene et altera Maria; Orlando Gibbons, I am the Resurrection and the Life; and John Taverner, Dum transisset.