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O Magnum Mysterium

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Morten Lauridsen

Morten Lauridsen (trans. H Robert Reynolds)

General Info

Year: 1994 / 2003
Duration: c. 6:00
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Choral
Publisher: Peer Music
Cost: Score & Parts - $85.00   |   Score Only - $9.95


Full Score
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
Bb Bass Clarinet
Bassoon I-II
Alto Saxophone I-II
Tenor Saxophone
Baritone Saxophone
Trumpet (in Bb) I-II-III
French Horn I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Tuba I-II
Percussion I-II, including:

  • Cymbals (suspended)
  • Timpani


  • Clarinet I, m.14: The B-flat on beat 4 should be tied to the next B-flat.

Program Notes

Morten Lauridsen’s choral setting of O Magnum Mysterium (O Great Mystery) has become one of the world’s most performed and recorded compositions since its 1994 premiere by the Los Angeles Master Chorale conducted by Paul Salamunovich. The work was commissioned by Marshall Rutter in honor of his wife Terry Knowles.

About his setting, Morten Lauridsen writes: "For centuries, composers have been inspired by the beautiful O Magnum Mysterium text with its depiction of the birth of the newborn king amongst lowly animals and shepherds. This affirmation of God’s grace to the meek and the adoration of the Blessed Virgin are celebrated in my setting through a quiet song of profound inner joy."

Recordings of Lauridsen’s music have received numerous GRAMMY nominations, and the composer was a 2007 recipient of the National Medal of Arts. H. Robert Reynolds arranged the symphonic wind version of this popular work with the approval and appreciation of the composer.

O Magnum Mysterium

O magnum mysterium
et admirabile sacramentum
ut animalia viderent Dominum
natum jacetum in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum. Alleluia!

0 great mystery,
and wondrous sacrament
that animals should see the new-
born Lord, lying in their manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear the
Lord Jesus Christ. Alleluia!

Program Note by Catharine Sinon Bushan, University of Texas

O Magnum Mysterium is a chant from the Matins of Christmas. This version is from the composer Morten Lauridsen who explains his 1994 piece as follows: “In composing music to these inspirational words about Christ's birth and the veneration of the Virgin Mary, I sought to impart a transforming spiritual experience within what I call ‘a quiet song of profound inner joy.’ I wanted this piece to resonate immediately and deeply into the core of the listener, to illumine through sound.” Listen for the dissonant note on the word “Virgo”, which Lauridsen calls the most important note of the piece, focusing on the Virgin Mary.

- Program Note courtesy of

Commercial Discography

State Ratings

  • Florida: V
  • Georgia: VI
  • Louisiana: IV
  • Maryland: IV
  • North Carolina: V
  • South Carolina: IV
  • Texas: IV. Complete
  • Wisconsin: Event 3000. Class A


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah) Wind Symphony (Donald Peterson) - 19 February 2021
  • Texas Tech University (Lubbock) Symphonic Band (Eric Allen, conductor) - 3 December 2020
  • University of Louisville (Ky.) Wind Ensemble (Ben Taylor, conductor) - 22 November 2020
  • Dordt University (Sioux Center, Iowa) Wind Symphony (Onsby C. Rose, conductor) - 21 November 2020
  • Lakeland (Ohio) Civic Band (Dan Crain, conductor)– 15 March 2020
  • University of Tulsa (Okla.) Wind Ensemble (Richard Wagner, conductor) – 10 March 2020
  • Texas Youth Wind Symphony (Austin) (Bradley Kent, conductor) – 9 March 2020
  • University Heights (Ohio) Symphonic Band (Matthew Salvaggio, conductor) – 8 March 2020
  • University of Tulsa (Okla.) Symphonic Winds (Aaron Wacker, conductor) – 2 March 2020
  • Central Texas (Waco) Youth Wind Ensemble (David W. Montgomery, conductor) – 1 March 2020
  • University of Toronto (Ont.) Wind Ensemble (Gillian MacKay, conductor) – 1 March 2020
  • University of Maryland (College Park) Wind Symphony (H. Robert Reynolds, conductor) – 29 February 2020
  • University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Wind Ensemble (Michael Griffith, conductor) – 25 February 2020
  • University of Georgia (Athens) Hodgson Symphonic Band (Emily Mariko Eng, conductor) – 10 February 2020
  • Cleveland (Ohio) Youth Wind Symphony Group II (Symphonic Winds - Melissa Lichtler, conductor) - 2 February 2020 (Cleveland State University)
  • Cleveland (Ohio) Youth Wind Symphony Group I (Daniel Crain, conductor) - 26 January 2020 (Severance Hall, Cleveland)
  • Salem Band (Winston-Salem, N.C.) (Eileen Young, conductor) – 19 December 2019
  • Charlottesville (Va.) Municipal Band (Stephen R. Layman, conductor) – 15 December 2019
  • Central Michigan University (Mount Pleasant) Symphony Band (Chris Chapman, conductor) – 3 December 2019
  • Salt Lake Symphonic Winds (Salt Lake City, Utah) (Thomas P. Rohrer, conductor) – 26 November 2019
  • Michigan State University (East Lansing) Symphony Band (Rebekah Daniel, conductor) – 24 November 2019

Works for Winds by this Composer