O Magnum Mysterium

This Christmas we count down the days with an advent calendar of the 25 best Christmas carols ever written, as voted for by 50 top choral experts from the across the UK and US.

11 December: O Magnum Mysterium

Words: Traditional


Music: Tomás L. de Victoria

Did 16th-century Spaniard Tomás Luis de Victoria study under  the great Palestrina? While we can’t be sure, the fluid counterpoint of his 1572 motet O Magnum Mysterium, which sets a Matins chant telling of the wonder of the sight of the newborn Christ, is worthy of the Italian master himself. As one of the more generally joyful composers of the Renaissance, it’s no surprise to hear Victoria’s Christmas motet finish with a rousingly florid and affirmative ‘Alleluia!’.

December 7: No Small Wonder

December 8: The Little Road to Bethlehem

December 9: Hodie Christus natus est


December 10: There is a Flower