Misterium Mirabile

  • Composer: Nicola LeFanu 
  • Publisher: Edition Peters
  • Cat No: Edition Peters No. 71216
  • Canadian Work: No
  • Duration: 4:20
  • Sample Track:

Program Notes:

Words – Anonymous (c. 1450)

Translations of Latin refrains:

misterium mirabile
a wonderful mystery

claro David germine
from the illustrious line of David

prophetarum carmine
according to the song of the prophets

mira plenitudine
with wonderful fullness

Salvator sine crimine
guiltless Saviour

Conductor Notes:

This 3-voice work dated 1999 takes its texture and sound from medieval music. Rhythmically and interpretively challenging but interesting and appealing for its mix of austerity and fluidity. Beware of the printed score – I had an original bought at a conference somewhere and when we ordered it for the choir from Peters, we were sent “reprints” because it is apparently out of print. They were blurry and difficult to read – looked like a copy of a copy of a copy. A great disservice to the work and the composer.

Composer / Arranger Notes:

The reason there are no dynamics, is the same as in much music from the distant past. The texture and register of the music suggest the appropriate dynamic. I did however use the words ‘gentle’ and ‘bright’ to give a clue as to the dynamic and tone colour. I would not want to prescribe more than that.

You are welcome to shape it to suit the acoustic you are performing in, and the number of voices in the choir.



This lists any discs, concerts or collections where this piece is included.





Anonymous. circa 1450

Of a rose sing we
Misterium mirabile (a wonderful mystery)

This rose is red of colour bright
Through whom our joy ‘gan alight
Upon Christmas night
Claro David germine. (from the illustrious line of David)

Of a rose sing we
Misterium mirabile

Of this rose was Christ born
To save mankind that was forlorn
And us all from sins sore
Prophetarum carmine. (according to the song of the prophets)

Of a rose sing we
Misterium mirabile

This rose of flowers she is flower
She will not fade in any shower
To sinful men she sent succour
Mira plenitudine. (with wonderful fullness)

Of a rose sing we
Misterium mirabile

This rose is so fair of hue
In maid Mary that is so true
These was born Lord of virtue
Salvator sine crimine. (guiltless Saviour)

Of a rose sing we
Misterium mirabile