In 1585, Tomás Luis de Victoria, born near Avila, Spain, composed this beautiful motet. It can be used for Benediction and is also very suitable for the Feast of the Transfiguration. Its words are taken from Matthew 17: 2-3, which details the glory of Christ at his transfiguration on Mount Tabor.
The Latin text:
Resplenduit facies ejus sicut sol,
vestimenta autem ejus facta sunt
alba sicut nix.
Et ecce apparuerunt illis
Moyses et Elias, loquentes cum Jesu.
And the English translation:
His face did shine as the sun,
and his garments became
as white as snow.
And behold, there appeared to them
Moses and Elijah, speaking with Jesus.
Pope St. Pius X in his Motu Proprio, Tra le sollecitudini, named the three criteria necessary for true sacred music: universality, holiness, and excellence of forms (or beauty). Each of these is fulfilled in the Resplenduit Facies Ejus. Latin is the universal language of the Church. The Word of God is holy in and of itself. In a polyphonic melody, each individual form blends with the rest, creating harmony. Who can deny this is anything but beautiful?
Victoria’s work re-tells this powerful scene from the Gospel of Matthew. Christ is universal, holy, and beautiful – and perfectly so. His divinity is made clear to the three apostles through the splendor of his appearance. The beauty, or excellence of form, demonstrated in the music mirrors the excellence of Christ’s own form – transfigured upon Mount Tabor.
This audio file is taken from ccwatershed.org