About the Music

Vespers was widely sung in polyphony during the Renaissance; there is an extensive body of Spanish Renaissance music for it. In addition to music by Morales, Guerrero, and Victoria, we will sing a few pieces by lesser-known Spanish composers.

Most of the music arises out of the chant, incorporating chant melodies and modes into the polyphonic music. The shape of the service begins simply and grows in complexity until its centerpiece, the Magnificat.

Vespers are different from the Masses we have usually sung. In the Mass, the music is a substantial complement to a sacramental service which takes place at the altar. In Vespers, the music is the whole liturgical service.

The choir is arranged antiphonally. That is, it is divided into two groups, seated facing each other at the front of the church and answering back and forth.

The Vespers consists of a variety of kinds of music: