Ave verum corpus – Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)
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The short eucharistic hymn Ave verum is said to have been written by either Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) of Pope Innocent IV (1243-1254). The text commemorates Christ’s redemptive sacrifice, and especially focuses on the great symbol of baptism: the pouring forth of water from his pierced side. Originally chanted, the Ave verum text has been set to other musical forms by a host of composers, from William Byrd to Edward Elgar, and by writers in our own time.
Gabriel Fauré composed his setting in the late 1800s, scored for soprano and alto voices with organ or orchestral accompaniment. Its melodies and harmonies are unthinkable without the influence of Gregorian chant; indeed, he wrote in a time when chant was being restored to its place in the Church. Fauré’s music has been described as linking the end of Romanticism with the modernism of the second quarter of the 20thcentury.