When approaching the Tantum Ergo Sacramentum text, I decided to study the Gregorian Chant of the Pange Lingua. For me, one of the most interesting characteristics of this melody is its irregular note groupings. The first portion of the chant is a group of five notes, so I decided to set this numerical value as the compositional basis for my work. This chant melody is represented on a number of levels, creating a large-scale harmonic trajectory, as well as informing the small-scale motif shapes.
Therefore, when I was determining the mood of this piece, the melodic rise in the chant figure naturally gave me the basis for a piece that represents an outpouring of joy. The second verse of this glorious text strikes a resonance with me, as it is almost overwhelming in its positivity. The lines that roughly translate as ‘To the Father and the Son be praise and joy, health, honour and virtue and blessing’, create an atmosphere of elation.
The recording process for this piece was fascinating. From my perspective as a singer, I am interested in the horizontal contours of melodic lines. Therefore, the texture of this piece, which frequently explores tight canons and imitations, provided an expressive springboard for the singers to lock into the small scale rhythmic detail. I found that during the process, the uneven pulse of five beats in a bar became very natural, creating a framework in which the singers could really sing out the final section of music, which is the climax of the piece.