Christ is Risen, 1908. Victor Herbert, 1859-1924. Music Division, Library of Congress. Call number: M2076.H
Herbert gained fame primarily through his forty-three operettas. His output, however, also included numerous works for orchestra, band, various instruments, and some twelve choral pieces. He wrote a large-scale cantata, The Captive, op. 25, for the 1891 Worcester (Massachusetts) Festival. His extended anthem for soloists and chorus, Christ is Risen, was premiered at St. Paul's Cathedral, Buffalo, New York, in 1908. A year later, it received another performance at Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio. The work demands a chorus of large dimension to sustain its divisi, tessitura, and dramatic flair. Set in C Major, the work opens with the chorus singing "Christ is risen," growing from p to f, through a chromatic-third harmonic progression, C-Minor/A-Minor. After an instrumental fanfare, a series of similar progressions and fanfares follows. More dramatic harmonies in minor with chromaticisms paint "For our gain He suffered loss, by divine decree He hath died upon the cross." A change of tempo and key to tranquillo and A-flat major signals the entrance of the alto soloist singing in Herbert's lyric style, "See the chains of death are broken." Another key change to the chromatic mediant F major marks the soprano solo entrance. The two soloists then join the chorus singing arpeggios in contrary motion through a series of chromatic-third progressions—D-flat major/B-flat major, E-flat major/C major, F major/D major on the text, "Christ is risen." The key of C major returns and the chorus beings the final section in octaves, Grandioso, tutta forza, "See the chains of death are broken." At animando, the chorus repeats the chain-of-thirds progression, climaxing in Herbert's grand-finale style, singing "Alleluia."