Commissioned by Richard Geiger for the Academy for the Study of St. Ambrose of Milan
“Veni, Redemptor (Come, Redeemer)” is a new composition based on a hymn written in the 4th Century by St. Ambrose of Milan. The hymn was originally titled, “Intende qui regis Israel,” and the words invite Christ’s presence into this world through the mystery of the Virgin Mary in explicitly trinitarian language. It is traditionally sung in the season of Advent. The music sounds very much like what we would consider to be a chant, but in a style that was specific to Ambrose, and came to be known as Milanese or Ambrosian in style. This chant style is still practiced in Milan today.
I folded the original melody and words of St. Ambrose into my music as foundational material, adding harmony parts, new melodic material, and changing the key at a couple points. The original melody is always present even as other parts are added to it, and my hope is that these parts add to the meaning of the text, and add interest for our contemporary sensibilities. It is composed for the standard four chorus parts of soprano, alto, tenor, bass. To stay true to the prayerful nature of the words, it starts out quite slow and quiet with the women invoking the chant as sung by the men of the choir. The music gradually builds and reaches its high point during two separate verses about the light of God shining and shimmering. For this music all the voices are high in their range, particularly the sopranos. The music fades away and ends with a recasting of the chant and a final Amen sung by all.