Christus factus est III

Anton Bruckner

Christus factus est III in D minor


About this work

Bruckner's third setting of "Christus factus est" is arguably his best. It seems that it was composed during a trip by the composer to Prague and several German cities. Scored for unaccompanied voices it is in Bruckner's mature idiom, being contemporary with the "Te Deum" and sharing some the latter's thematic material.

In this solemn motet, Bruckner's tone painting is excellent and idiosyncratic, the latter adjective being in the best sense of the word. There is an impassioned repetition of and hanging on to the word "obediens" as though to impress one with the humility and sacrifice of Christ; here one is reminded of accounts that during his prayers, the composer could often be heard repeating a phrase or a word up to five times, as though to immerse himself with its significance. As the text of the music alludes to the Crucifixion, the music sinks to minimal audibility, again a reminder from Bruckner's external world, that he expressed his most important spiritual thoughts in a hushed and solemn voice. The mood intensifies and rises appropriately with the line "Propter quod et Deus exaltavit" (For which cause, God also hath exalted Him). A device from the "Te Deum" is here used, the repetition of the final line "quod est super omne nomen", which recalls the "Non confudar" from the larger work. Some material from the "Te Deum" is even utilized but here the climax is inverse. Where the former relies on a building up of forces and intensity, the "Christus factus" ends with a prolonged diminuendo, a fading into a powerful and mystic silence with its final thought.