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John Tavener

Publisher: Chester Music

Ex Maria Virgine (2005)
Commissioned by Timothy Brown and the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge with the generous support from Paul Lee, and by individual co-commissioners of the following carols: Remember O Thou Man - Cathedral choral Society of Washington There is no Rose: Northern Illinois University Choral Department Rocking: BBC for the 2006 BBC Radio 3 Choir of the Year, Chantage Unto Us is born a Son: Choir of Saint Thomas Church New York (full commission lines available seperately)
Chester Music Ltd
Chorus a cappella / + 1 instrument
Year Composed
35 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
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Programme Note
John Tavener Ex Maria Virgine (2005)
In this sequence of Christmas carols I have set both familiar and less well-known texts, and linked them with an expanding and contracting phrase 'Ex Maria Virgine'. This refers to Mary the Mother of God - 'The Eternal Feminine' - and it should be sung with great radiance and femininity, for without the Blessed Virgin, the Saviour could not have become Man.

The individual carols are deliberately varied in character and should be sung vividly, with strong contrasts. They are ecstatic, playful, contemplative and tender, becoming briefly 'terrifying' in the third verse of 'Unto us is born a Son'.

Ex Maria Virgine was completed on Christmas Day 2005, and it is dedicated to H.R.H. The Prince of Wales and H.R.H. The Duchess of Cornwall, in joyful celebration of their marraige.


  • Ensemble
    Choir of Clare College, Cambridge
    James McVinnie, organ; Stefan Berkieta, baritone; Simon Thomas Jacobs, organ
    Timothy Brown
  • Conductor
    David Hill
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