The premier boys sacred choir treats us all to a little-heard "Ave Verum" by Italian composer Tomaso Albinoni that rivals the beauty of Mozart's version.
Libera, the world’s premier boys sacred choir, released this phenomenal rendition of “Ave Verum” in June 2023. The work is a rarely heard arrangement of the 13th-century prayer “Ave Verum Corpus,” a prayerful meditation on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
While the most popular version of “Ave Verum Corpus” was written by Mozart, it is a prayer that has been covered by many composers over the last seven centuries. This one comes from Tomaso Albinoni, a 17th-century Italian composer who wrote in the Baroque style.
Albinoni is best known for his instrumental works, as the majority of his operas were not published and have since been lost. Most notable among his extant works is his “Adagio in G minor,” from which “Ave Verum” arose. The Adagio was not actually written by Albinoni but by music historian Remo Giazotto, who based the work off a fragment of an Albinoni bass line he found in the Saxon State Library. It is nonetheless credited to Albinoni.
The boys of Libera approached the work as true professionals, supported by a small chamber orchestra. The boy soprano who took up the solo was especially wonderful to listen to, hitting high notes that ring through the beautiful church. It is truly stunning to hear what beautiful music these kids can create.
The music is all very somber, but it perfectly suits the text, which speaks of the sacrifice of Christ to save the world. The translation of the Latin text reads:
Hail, true Body, born
of the Virgin Mary,
truly suffered, sacrificed
on the cross for mankind,
from whose pierced side
water and blood flowed:
Be for us a foretaste [of the Heavenly banquet]
in the trial of death!
O sweet Jesus, O holy Jesus,
O Jesus, son of Mary,
have mercy on me. Amen.
Libera’s rendition of “Ave Verum” was featured on their latest album, Forever, released in July 2023. Hear the whole album on Spotify, and be sure to follow Libera on YouTube to keep up with all their releases.