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Rorate coeli (2016)

Instrumentation: SATB, Soprano solo or semi chorus, with optional accompaniment
Duration: ca. 5'
Text: Excerpt from the Advent Prose, translation into English by the Composer
Commissioned by the Canticle Singers of Baltimore
Premiere Date: December 18, 2016, Baltimore, MD

Program Note

The texts associated with the liturgical season of Advent have always held a special fascination for me, particularly as they are filled with expectance and a nascent longing for a more just world. In approaching the opening words of the chant Rorate coeli (“Drop down, ye heavens”), I wanted to explore the illustrastive ways in which the ensemble could express the idea of “dropping,” of sinking in and of falling, through melodic gestures as well as harmonic progression. At the same time, I wished to hearken back to the original nature of the chant and its imploring desire for justice. The composition therefore alternates between chant-like lines and building, ecstatic gestures, carrying a sense of yearning, of active seeking for a higher and better world.

Rorate coeli was commissioned by the Canticle Singers of Baltimore. The version for SSAA and piano was premiered by the Canticle Singers on April 30, 2017, and the version for SSATB was premiered at St. David’s Episcopal Church, Baltimore, Maryland on December 18, 2016.

— Douglas Buchanan


Rorate coeli (Drop drown), ye heavens from above / Version for SSATB



Douglas Buchanan's setting of "Drop Down, Ye Heavens," adapted from the Advent prose "Rorate Coeli," performed at the 2016 Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at St. David's Episcopal Church in Baltimore.


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