Music for Pentecost 16 — Sunday September 25 2022

Panis angelicus – Alexander L’Estrange (b. 1974)


View video here

Panis angelicus is the second-to-last section of the hymn Sacris solemniis, which was written by Saint Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century. “Panis angelicus” is Latin for “Bread of Angels” or “Angelic Bread.” The hymn was originally written for the Feast of Corpus Christi, and has been set by many composers, including Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Cesar Franck, Palestrina, and Camille Saint-Saëns.

This Sunday’s communion motet in church is a setting for accompanied upper voices of this ancient hymn by the contemporary British composer Alexander L’Estrange. The well-known text is set to an exquisite, soaring melody, showcasing L’Estrange’s gift for jazz-inflused harmonies and beautiful, yet accessible melodic lines.

The bread of the angels
becomes the bread of mortals;
the bread of heaven
puts an end to prefigurations.
O wondrous thing!
the poor, the slave and the humble
feed on their Lord.

Of you, threefold and
one God, we ask:
Come to visit us
as we worship you;
lead us on your paths
to where we want to go:
to the light in which you dwell.

Gerald Harder