During the season of Epiphany, we reflect on the significance of the revelation of God in Christ that commenced with the birth of Messiah. One of the traditional antiphons sung on the Feast of Epiphany is the Latin text, Tribus miraculis:
Tribus miraculis ornatum, diem sanctum colimus:
Distinguished by three miracles, this holy day is celebrated:
Hodie stella Magos duxit ad praesepium:
Today the star led the Magi to the manger;
Hodie vinum ex aqua factum est ad nuptias:
Today wine was made from water at the wedding;
Hodie in Jordane a Joanne Christus baptizari voluit,
Today in the Jordan by John, Christ chose to be baptized
ut salvaret nos, Alleluia.
in order to save us, Alleluia.
These three wondrous manifestations of God’s presence in Christ are recognized on different days during the season of Epiphany by different traditions. In our Book of Common Prayer, the Gospel reading for the Feast of Epiphany (January 6) is the account of the honoring of Christ by the Magi (St. Matthew 2). On the second Sunday after Epiphany, the opening verses of the Gospel of St. Mark are read, including the account of Christ’s baptism. And on the third Sunday after Epiphany, we hear the story of water being transformed into very good wine.
This text has been set to music by a number of composers. Our choir has sung the setting by Luca Marenzio (1553?-1599), a composer best known for his many madrigals. Here is Luca Marenzio’s setting of Tribus miralculis as sung by the ensemble Claritas.
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c.1525-1594) also composed a setting of this text, published in 1564 as part of a collection of 36 motets to be sung during Holy Communion. Each work is designated for a particular day in the Church calendar; Tribus miraculis is naturally appointed for the Feast of the Epiphany. Here is a performance of Palestrina’s setting sung by the University of King’s College Chapel Choir. (Note that this is the University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, founded in 1789.)