Handl's Anthem for the Epiphany of the Lord

Adoration of the Magi - Giotto - Scrovegni (Arena) Chapel, Padua, Italy.

The Slovenian composer Jacobus Handl, (1550-1591) a Cistercian monk, lived in Austria and Bohemia. His wide-ranging, eclectic style blended archaism and modernity.

Handl's five-part anthem Omnes de Saba Venient  draws its text from the Epiphany Responsory text from the divine Office at the Hour of Sext.

It opens with an emphatic surge of rich counterpoint, with fleeting motifs pointing the text in an exciting fashion depicting the impulsive rush of gift-bearers. 
At the words "et laudem Domino" (the praise of the Lord), a repetitive, ascending figure sweeps through the voices, ending with a triumphant closing "Alleluia."


Latin English
Omnes de Saba venient aurum
et thus deferentes
et laudem Domini annuntiantes. Alleluia.
All they from Saba shall come,
bringing gold and frankincense:
and shewing forth praise to the Lord. Alleluia.
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Jacobus Handl, also known as Jacobus Gallus Carniolus or Jacob(us) Gallus may have been born as Jakob Petelin, Slovenia. After his education and receiving Orders at the Cistercian Stična Monastery in Carniola, he worked as a musician in Austria, Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia, staying for some time at the Benedictine Melk Abbey in Lower Austria.

From 1574 to 1585 he worked in various Austrian Court chapels. From 1585 to his death, he worked in Prague as an organist at the Church of St. John on the Balustrade.

His compositional style represented the Counter-Reformation in Bohemia. He wrote many compositions, some of them for very large choirs with up to 24 independent voices.