The Kennedy Center

Four Motets - Locus iste; Christus factus est; Virga Jesse; Ave Maria

About the Work

Anton Bruckner Composer: Anton Bruckner
© Peter Laki

In addition to his nine grandiose symphonies, Anton Bruckner also composed a great deal of sacred choral music, including three Masses, a Te Deum, and a host of shorter a cappella (unaccompanied) works for church services. Two of the four that we shall hear tonight, "Locus iste" and "Ave Maria," are early works by this exceptional late bloomer who in his late thirties and early forties was just beginning to find his voice as a composer. These motets are relatively simple in their harmonic language and choral textures. "Christus factus est" and "Virga Jesse," on the other hand, are contemporaries of the Seventh Symphony where Bruckner arguably reached the summit of his art. They show the composer at the height of his creative powers: the sophisticated harmony changes, the dramatic pauses, the great dynamic contrasts reveal a composer who thought symphonically even when composing a sacred motet of only a few minutes' duration.

Locus Iste
Locus iste a Deo factus est,
inaestimabile sacramentum,
irreprehensibilis est.

This place was made by God,
a priceless sacrament,
it is without reproof.


Christus factus est
Christus factus est pro nobis obediens
usque ad mortem, mortem
autem crucis.

Propter quod et Deus exaltavit illum
et dedit illi nomen,
quod est super omne nomen.


Christ became obedient for us unto
even to the death, death on the

Therefore God exalted him
and gave him a name
which is above all names.


Virga Jesse
Virga Jesse floruit,
Virgo Deum et
hominem genuit,
Pacem Deus reddidit,
in se reconcilians ima

The rod of Jesse has blossomed,
a Virgin has brought forth God
  and man,
God has restored peace,
reconciling in Himself the lowest
  with the highest.


Ave Maria
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus
Benedicta tu in mulieribus
et benedictus fructus ventris tui,
Sancta Maria, mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae.


Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is
  with you.
You are blessed among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb,
Holy Mary, mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and in the hour of our death.