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Music Text

from Adoro te devote by St Thomas Aquinas and translated by Gerard Manley Hopkins (E, L)


(either one to a part or a choir. Altos may be used to replace
countertenors if necessary)

Abbreviations (PDF)


Boosey & Hawkes

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.


World Premiere
Stevenson Hall, RSAMD, Glasgow
Hilliard Ensemble
Composer's Notes

This short motet was written immediately after my trumpet concert Epiclesis and both pieces explore similar musical and theological territory. Both are concerned with the mystery of The Eucharist and both incorporate the Gregorian hymn Adoro te devote. Instead of being a straightforward setting of the poem by St Thomas Aquinas, …here in hiding…jumbles the Latin original with the English translation by Gerard Manley Hopkins. The different texts are sometimes combined, sometimes fragmented or intercut to form new relationships and a new order of progression.

The piece has an episodic structure based on two contrasting materials. Firstly there is a chromatically rich and ornately embellished music which is juxtaposed with a simpler "folkier" idea based on the plainsong. A third homophonic idea forms the central pivotal point of the piece. Various vocal textures are explored throughout, covering solos, duets, trios and quartet. The final quartet combines Latin and English versions of the first stanza and is a musical synthesis of the two contrasting ideas which have shaped the piece.

James MacMillan

Reproduction Rights
This programme note can be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer

Repertoire Note

Choral level of difficulty: 4-5 (5 greatest)

…here in hiding… is MacMillan’s most ambitious vocal work exploring medieval themes, both musically and poetically. St Thomas Aquinas’s text Adoro te devote is set both in Latin and in the English translation by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and the plainsong chant is at the heart of the musical development. The work embraces a wide emotional range from meditative calm to penitential anguish. Originally composed for the solo voices of The Hilliard Ensemble it can also be performed by ATTB choral forces. A solo tenor cadenza occurs some two thirds of the way through the work, followed by warmly expressive music and a fade-out which is highly effective.

It is challenging, as always, but well within the grasp of a good choral group who have good ears, an ability to pitch slightly awkward intervals and to sing fast chromatic passages with the characteristic ‘quick-turn’ MacMillan ornamentation. The sheer scale of this motet makes it a major undertaking, especially if sung by solo voices.

Repertoire Note by Paul Spicer

Press Quotes

"...a striking mixture of Gregorian chant with contemporary dissonance."
The Guardian

Recommended Recording

The Hilliard Ensemble
ECM 1614/15

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