Dum transisset Sabbatum, II
JOHN TAVERNER’S setting of the third responsory at Matins on Easter Day, Dum transisset Sabbatum, is perhaps one of the best known and most majestic of all works of Tudor polyphony. Less well known is his second setting of this text. Sung here by the choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, the successor to Cardinal College, of which Taverner was the first organist to be appointed and for which he composed this piece, the second setting employs the range and musical language of the first setting to a different — though no less successful — effect.
Like Taverner’s first setting, the second’s soaring part writing imparts to us the majesty and awe that first Easter, very early in the morning, on the first day of the week.
Dum transisset Sabbatum Maria Magdalene et Maria Jacobi et Salome emerunt aromata, ut venientes ungerent Jesum, alleluia. Et valde mane una sabbatorum veniunt ad monumentum orto jam sole. Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.
And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary [the mother of] James, and Salome brought spices, that coming they might anoint Jesus, alleluia. And very early the first of the Sabbath, they came to the monument, the sun being now risen. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. [Mark 16:1-2]