Lux Aurumque

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Lux Aurumque
by Eric Whitacre
The composer conducting, in 2007
KeyC minor
Genrechoral composition
TextTranslation of the poem "Light and Gold", by Edward Esch
Composed2000 (2000)
Scoring8-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 babe".[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. A performance takes 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 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] It had been viewed on YouTube more than five million times as of February 2016.[8]


The work in 48 measures is written in C 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". Archived from the original on 12 May 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
  4. ^ "Lux Aurumque" (PDF). Walton Music. 2000. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
  5. ^ "Lux Aurumque" (PDF). 2005. Retrieved 21 May 2012.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ a b "Choral Newsletter ~ Summer 2010 / The Choral Music of Eric Whitacre". 2010. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. 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 7 February 2016.
  9. ^ "Album review: Eric Whitacre, Light & Gold". Scotsman. 12 December 2010. Retrieved 22 May 2012.

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