Item No. GMCD 7426/27
Vespers for Choir and Alphorn Sextet
Mysterium Montis – The Mystery of the Mountain. There can be no-one who has not experienced that hidden mystery a mountain holds, just like the sea or a river, which the mere sport of climbing cannot touch upon.
As far back as biblical times people recognised the sacred mystery of the mountains, even if the hills of Israel never reached the heights of 4,000 metres.
“I lift mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, who hath made heaven and earth”. So sings the psalmist in Psalm 121.
God finally appeared to Elijah on a mountain, Mount Horeb – not, as it happens, during the violent storm, nor the mountain fire nor even the earthquake but rather in a soft and sweet murmuring voice. Jesus, we are told, retreated to the mountains at night in order to pray. Then, one time he took with him three of his disciples and on Mount Tabor was transfigured before their very eyes, whereupon Moses and Elijah appeared by his side.
Some years ago Christoph and Claudia Im Obersteg, both passionate alphorn players, had a powerful experience: during a Russian Orthodox church service in St. Petersburg they were struck by the strong affinity that existed between choral singing and alphorn ensemble, which fascinated them to such a degree they commissioned me to write a piece for choir and alphorn ensemble. They were looking for a liturgical work to fill a whole concert and gave me carte blanche as to its theme and form. I chose to write a vespers with mountains as its main theme, which has at its heart psalms based on the biblical scenes described above, namely Psalm 121, Elijah on Mount Horeb and Christ’s Transfiguration on Mount Tabor. The remaining parts of the Latin Vespers (Opening, Hymn, Magnificat, Prayers and the Our Father) I put in the order they come in the traditional service, which I had sung so many times as a cathedral scholar at Engelberg Abbey.
The wonderful text used for the Hymn from the Transfiguration Vespers O nata lux de lumine (Oh Light born of Light) appears in my Mysterium Montis vesper only at the end. In place of the Hymn (directly after the Opening)