Italian composer and singer Luca Marenzio (ca. 1553-1599) was considered by many Renaissance musicians to be the chief archetype of the expressive 16th-century Italian madrigal style. The musical highlights of Tribus miraculis exist in short melodic fragments, varied rhythms and astonishing changes in texture that highlight specific words. Three voices open the motet with melismas on the words “tribus miraculis” (three miracles), and later similar melismas ornament the words “vinum” (wine) and “Jordane” (Jordan) followed by homophonic statements of “hodie” (today). Two upper parts represent the star leading to the manger and there is an appropriate, startling change at the words “Hodie vinum ex aqua factum est” (today water was changed into wine). An unusual and remarkable sequential “alleluia” completes the motet.

© Ryan Turner