Lux Aurumque

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Lux Aurumque
by Eric Whitacre
The composer conducting, in 2007
Key C-sharp minor
Genre choral composition
Text Translation of the poem "Light and Gold", by Edward Esch
Language Latin
Composed 2000 (2000)
Scoring 8-part mixed choir a cappella

Lux Aurumque ("Light and Gold", sometimes "Light of Gold") is a choral composition in one movement by Eric Whitacre. It is a Christmas piece based on a Latin poem of the same name, which translates as "Light, warm and heavy as pure gold, and the angels sing softly to the new born baby".[1] In 2000, Whitacre set a short Latin text for mixed choir a cappella. In 2005, he wrote an arrangement for wind ensemble. The choral version became known through Whitacre's project Virtual Choir in 2009. The piece is also available for men's choir. Its duration is about four minutes.


The inspiration for the work was a short poem in English, "Light and Gold", by Edward Esch (born 1970), which begins with the word "Light" and ends "angels sing softly to the new-born babe".[2] Charles Anthony Silvestri translated this text into Latin for Whitacre, and attempted to render "the original poem into Latin as singably and as sonically beautifully as I could".[3] The piece was composed in 2000 on a commission from the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay and dedicated to Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe. It was published by Walton Music in 2001.[4] In 2005, Whitacre adapted it for wind band, a version first performed at the annual conference of the Texas Music Educators Association and dedicated to Gary Green.[5][dead link] He also arranged it for men's choir.[6]

The version for mixed choir is part of Whitacre's project Virtual Choir.[6] The video as a mix of individual recordings by 185 singers from 12 countries caused "a colossal on-line rush in interest" when it was uploaded in 2011,[7] and has been viewed on YouTube more than four and a half million times since.[8]


The work in 48 measures is written in C-sharp minor and marked "Adagio, Molto Legato". It is set for SATB; all parts are divided in two for most of the time, a solo soprano is employed in measures 5 to 7, and the soprano is divided in three parts beginning in measure 34. The composer writes in the printed score: "... if the tight harmonies are carefully tuned and balanced they will shimmer and glow". Differently from other works of the composer, the piece is suitable for church services, especially for Christmas.[3] Whitacre's music has been described as "softly spoken, deeply harmonic and tuneful, but making use of unusual rhythms and sound balancing to create highly textured music".[9]


  1. ^ Shrock, Dennis (2009-03-04). Choral Repertoire. Oxford University Press. p. 761. ISBN 9780199886876. Retrieved 24 November 2012. 
  2. ^ "Lux Aurumque". Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Charles Anthony Silvestri (2001). "Lux Aurumque". Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  4. ^ "Lux Aurumque" (PDF). Walton Music. 2000. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  5. ^ "Lux Aurumque" (PDF). 2005. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "Choral Newsletter ~ Summer 2010 / The Choral Music of Eric Whitacre". 2010. Retrieved 22 May 2012. 
  7. ^ "Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir performance of Lux Aurumque". ChesterNovello. 2010. Retrieved 22 May 2012. 
  8. ^ "Lux Aurumque". YouTube. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  9. ^ "Album review: Eric Whitacre, Light & Gold". Scotsman. 12 December 2010. Retrieved 22 May 2012. 

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