O Sacrum Convivium




5 minutes


  • Choral Music


SSATBB a cappella

An antiphon on the feast of Corpus Christi to a text written by St Thomas Aquinas. 

O sacred banquet! in which Christ is received, the memory of his Passion is renewed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory given to us. Alleluia

In 1985, O sacrum convivium was written as an a cappella antiphon on the feast of Corpus Christi for the Estonian choir and its conductor Tonú Kaljuste, whom Standford much admired. 

The Latin text is from St Thomas Aquinas. In Standford’s words, ‘Latin has an attraction for me, because the language offers an impersonal grandeur like great Greek or Roman monuments, allowing musical flexibility uninhibited by direct textural meanings and associations.’

O sacrum convivium has its origins in the operatic work that Standford left unfinished entitled Villon, set in the 15th century about the good for nothing poet Françoise Villon. This motet was to have been a dramatic interlude. At its heart the opera was concerned with the way the poet/artist struggles to find their place in the conflict between church on the one hand and state/commerce on the other.