This lengthy six-movement motet is simply a joy to perform. It opens with a duet in the tenor and bass voices, which may be performed as a true duet or with all the men. In the second section, the alto voice joins the tenor and bass for a trio. The third section begins with a short opening by the alto and soprano voices who are then joined by the tenor and bass. Some antiphonal homophony at “et paries filium” (and bear a son). The fourth section, Mary’s response to Gabriel, is a duet for the soprano/alto voices. The full choir returns in the fifth section with Gabriel’s answer “The Holy Spirit shall come upon you…” Isaac reserved some of his best and intricate writing for the final movement. It opens with an alto/tenor duet and joined by the bass just to enter a section of blackened notes (triple meter) leads into the soprano voice soaring in at the words “Son of God”.
Ave Maria gratia plena Dominus tecum
Benedicta tu in mulieribus et benedictus fructus ventris tui
Ecce concipies et paries filium et vocabitur nomen ejus Emmanuel
Quomodo inquit fiet quoniam virum non cognosco et respondens angelus dixit intrabit:
Spiritus sanctus superveniet in te et virtus altissimi obumbrabit tibi.
Ideoque quod nascetur ex te sanctum vocabitur Filius Dei.
Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son, and His name shall be called Emmanuel.
How shall this be, since I know not any man? And the angel answered and said unto her:
The Holy Spirit shall come upon you and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you.
Therefore, that Holy One which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God.