Aurora rutilat

Dawn glows red

Music: Sheena Phillips. Words: From the Inchcolm Antiphoner
SATB divisi
performance time approx 3m 20s
Range S: b♭ – f'' / A: g – c'' / T: c – e'♭ / B: A♭ – c'
Price code: C
Complexity: ***

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Aurora rutilat (Dawn glows red) is based on a 14th century plainchant hymn in honour of Saint Columba, who flourished in Scotland in the 6th century and whose feast day is June 9th. The piece uses two of the original verses, one expressing the sense of anticipation as the singers rise with the sun to prepare for celebration, the other being a joyful litany of praise.

As if mirroring the event of sunrise, the music grows in harmonic richness and melodic height, starting with a simple statement of the plainchant itself, building in excitement as the sun rises, and settling to a calmer conclusion as dawn passes and morning begins.

The recording is by Rudsambee Company of Singers, directed by the composer. It is on the album citrus and honey (RUBEECD002).

This is not the same as the Ambrosian hymn with the similar incipit “Aurora lucis rutilat”.


Aurora rutilat lucis prenuncia;
letos nos excitat a sompnolencia,
volentes celebre festum recolere
Columbe venerabilis.
Sit laus perpetua, sit semper gloria
patri et filio sancto paraclito,
simplici Domino qui regit omnia
per cuncta semper secula.

Extracts from the 14th century plainchant Hymn from Lauds for the Feast of St Columba, which appears in the Inchcolm Antiphoner (now in Edinburgh University Library). An edited version of this manuscript has been prepared by Isobel Woods Preece.


Dawn glows red, heralding daylight;
it rouses us joyfully from sleep,
eager to keep the feast of the
famous and venerable Columba.
Everlasting praise and glory be to the
Father, Son and Holy Paraclete,
the one Lord who reigns over everything
for evermore.

Canasg editors

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