Mozart’s Perfect Mourning

Ave Verum Corpus

Bristol Beacon, 4th July 2015

Mozart composed the motet Ave Verum Corpus less than six months before his death in 1791. It is a setting of a 14th century hymn in Latin; the words can be approximately translated into English as:

Hail true body
Born of the Virgin Mary
Who truly suffered, sacrificed
On the cross for the sake of mankind;
Whose pierced side
Flowed with water and blood;
May it be for us a foretaste (of heaven)
In the trial of death.

Despite being only 46 bars long, the piece is viewed by many as one of Mozart’s most perfect works. It was originally scored for a four-part choir, strings and organ, but many recordings use a string orchestra of a size that rather overpowers the voices. Nor Gurt Lush though, we’re always acapella.