Beata viscera

William Byrd

Beata viscera

About this work

The Beata viscera is a Marian communion text used in the feasts of the Virgin Mary. More specifically, it occurs in the Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary from the Purification to Advent, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary from Christmas to the Purification. The 1605 collection of liturgical motets, Gradualia, by the seventeenth-century English composer William Byrd contains a motet on this text for the former mass, but may well have intended its use in the two latter as well.

Modern ensembles do not seem to perform the Marian motets often. This is a great pity as they contain some excellent writing. The Beata viscera in particular is a succinct and well-composed piece. The unusual opening motif is particularly clever, and reoccurs several times in the work.