The brilliant female a cappella group, Papagena, have asked John to write a new piece for them using the ‘Stabat Mater Speciosa’ text, the sister of the more well-known and frequently set ‘Stabat Mater Dolorosa’. This latter text is a poetic meditation on the sorrow of Mary, the mother of Jesus, as she witnesses the devastation and trauma of the death of her son on the cross at Calvary. The ‘Speciosa’ text describes the beginning of the life of Jesus – at his birth in a stable in Bethlehem. It describes the ecstatic joy of motherhood in the humblest of settings: we rejoice with the angels, share the wonder of Joseph and, in this tableau of a fragile new life, we experience a tender, passionate love. Through our supplication to Mary we partake in the miracle of this birth and look with hope towards our own redemption.
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