Shower, O heavens, from above,
and let the skies rain down righteousness;
let the earth open, that salvation may spring up,
and let it cause righteousness to sprout up also;
I the LORD have created it.
Let us know, let us press on to know the LORD;
his appearing is as sure as the dawn;
he will come to us like the showers,
like the spring rains that water the earth.
LOOK: Appalachian Rhapsody in Blues: or, He Will Come to Us Like the Spring Rains by Grace Carol Bomer
LISTEN: “Rorate caeli” by William Byrd, 1605 | Performed by The Gesualdo Six, directed by Owain Park, 2020
Rorate caeli desuper, et nubes pluant justum: aperiatur terra, et germinet salvatorem.
Benedixisti, Domine, terram tuam: avertisti captivitatem Jacob.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open and bring forth a Savior.
Lord, thou hast blessed thy land: thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
The text of “Rorate caeli” (Let the heavens) is taken from the Vulgate translation of Isaiah 45:8. It “is frequently sung to plainsong at Mass and in the Divine Office during Advent, where it gives expression to the longings of Patriarchs and Prophets, and symbolically of the Church, for the coming of the Messiah. Throughout Advent it occurs daily as the versicle and response after the hymn at Vespers” [source].
William Byrd’s five-voice motet adds an additional verse from Psalm 85:1 (84:1–2 in the Vulgate), followed by the Gloria Patri.
This video performance is part of the Gesualdo Six’s 2020 Advent Sessions YouTube series.