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Sol Invictus

SSAATTBB (with brief soprano and alto solos)  •  duration 4:00 to 4:30.

Text by Varro and Minucius (ancient Rome).

Written 2013. Premiere 7 dec 2013 by San Francisco Choral Artists (Magen Solomon, Artistic Director) in Palo Alto, CA, USA.

Sol Invictus is the first of three pieces written during my 2013-14 season as a composer in [virtual] residence with the wonderful San Francisco Choral Artists.

The themes of this December concert were Italy and Christmas. Interested in a different flavor of holiday text, I went looking for a great text relating to the ancient Roman solstice, or "Dies Natalis Solis Invicti" ("Birthday of the Invincible Sun").

The beautiful text I assembled from two sources (thanks to UK Latin scholar Roger Pearse and his site can be thought of as a seasonal 'ancient Solstice' text or simply as a sun-worship text. To my ear, one of SFCA's core qualities is its beautiful blend, and this piece explores that otherworldly sustain in rich dissonances and lyrical solo work.

Text and translation:

Sol Invictus!

Sol, quorum tempora observantur,
cum quaedam seruntur et conduntur.

In solem adeo rursus intende:
nusquam eius claritudo violatur.

Caelo adfixus, sed terris omnibus sparsus est;
pariter praesens ubique interest et miscetur omnibus.

Invincible Sun!

Sun, from which time is observed,
when any seed is planted or harvested.

Always look back to the sun:
its light is inviolate.

It is fixed in the sky, yet it shines equally over all lands;
present everywhere, it is connected with all things.