O nata lux


I discovered this gem while researching historical Christian texts.  “O nata lux” was a hymn originally for the Feast of Transfiguration in August, which is oddly nowhere near Christmastide.  Even though I did not intend for this work to be Christmas-related, it appears to have taken on this life by way of traditional usage, which is perfectly OK by me.  This 10th century hymn has been set by composers from Thomas Tallis in the 16th century all the way to now, which means that its beauty has struck more than just me.

The final large segment has special meaning to me.  A dear friend of mine came to visit with my future wife one night in my studio.  I could see she was visibly distraught: she revealed to us that she had been the victim of date rape.  We sobbed with her that night and rocked her in our arms as we comforted her.  This “rocking” section (repeated on “lux”) was a reflection of that experience and our desire to bring love and peace to her upside-down world.

My favorite choral ensemble, musica intima (Vancouver, BC CANADA), was kind enough to record this work and made it the cover track for their 2009 Christmas album, o nata lux.  Not only did they do a fantastic job, they gave it the wings that every composer dreams of.

O nata lux

O Nata Lux de lumine
Jesu redemptor saeculi
Dignare Clemens supplicum
Laudes preces que sumere.

Qui carne quondam contegi
Dignatus est pro perditis
Nos membra confer effici
Tui beati corporis.

O Light born of light
Jesus, Redeemer of the world,
Mercifully deem us worthy
To offer prayers and praise.

You who once deigned to become flesh
For the sake of your lost ones
Grant that we become members
Of your holy Body.