Sacred Hearts & Secret Music


Catalogue No: DDA 25077
EAN/UPC: 809730507724
Composers: , ,
Release Date: March 2009
Discs: 1
Total Playing Time: 79:31
Sample: Sequenza in onore di Sant'Agnese

This CD stands on its own merits as an exceptional programme of early sacred music, transcribed for and performed by the etherially beautiful voices of Musica Secreta and Celestial Sirens. However, like their earlier CD (DDA 25062) it has an added rationale, as the ‘virtual sound-track’ to the superb new novel ‘Sacred Hearts’, by Sarah Dunant. The music on the CD refers directly to many of the scenes and events in the book, allowing the reader/listener to more fully absorb themselves into the ancient world and characters so wonderfully portrayed.

‘Sacred Hearts’ is published in the UK by Virago, and in the USA by Random House. The book and CD have been heavily featured in the media in the UK including BBC Radio ‘Woman’s Hour’, the South bank Festival and so on.

Track Listing

    anonymous (16th century):

  1. Cantabant Sancti Canticum Novum (1:31)
  2. Giovanni Pierluigi de Palestrina:

  3. Surge, Illuminare Ierusalem (2:33)
  4. anonymous (16th century):

  5. Beata Agnes in Medio Flammarum (1:27)
  6. Amo Christum in Cuius Thalamum Introivi (3:09)
  7. Agnes, beata Virginis (2:48)
  8. Giovanni Pierluigi de Palestrina:

  9. I. Missa Veni Sponsa Christi − Kyrie (2:48)
  10. II. Missa Veni Sponsa Christi − Gloria (4:00)
  11. III. Missa Veni Sponsa Christi − Credo (6:13)
  12. IV. Missa Veni Sponsa Christi − Sanctus (5:32)
  13. V. Missa Veni Sponsa Christi − Agnus Dei (3:25)
  14. anonymous (16th century):

  15. Sequenza in onore Sant’Agnese (1:29)
  16. Cipriano de Rore:

  17. Magnificat Sexti Toni (8:21)
  18. anonymous (16th century):

  19. Stans Beata in Medio Flammarum (1:03)
  20. Giovanni Pierluigi de Palestrina:

  21. Alma Redemptoris Mater (4:55)
  22. I. Lamentations for Holy Saturday, Book 3 − Lecto I: Lamentatione Ieremiae Prophetae (9:19)
  23. II. Lamentations for Holy Saturday, Book 3 − Lecto II: Aleph. Quomodo obscuratum est Aurum (8:16)
  24. III. Lamentations for Holy Saturday, Book 3 − Lecto III: Incipit oratio Ieremiae Prophetae (8:27)
  25. Cipriano de Rore:

  26. Regina Caeli Laetare (3:46)



The ornamentation…sounds both natural and beautiful… an aural feast. Magical. EDITOR’S CHOIRE CD OCTOBER 2009

” —Richard Lawrence
Oz Arts Review

Could be habit forming, but it’s an addiction that is entirely beneficial. The contents of ‘Sacred Hearts and Secret Music’ are sung with an unpretentious artistry that allows the music to make maximum impact on the listener. it is a most notable addition to the recorded canon of sacred music

” —Neville Cohn
New Classics

Ethereally beautiful, haunting music, performed with grace and sincerity

” —John Pitt

The effect [in the Mass] is light, lovely, beautifully rendered by six women on the four vocal parts… the most interesting chant is the sequence for St. Agnes. Altogether, this is an offbeat program of considerable interest, not exactly comparable to competitive versions of the music.

” —J F Weber
The Observer

’Excellent ensemble…. the CD wins out through pure sound, fervour and refreshing simplicity

” —Fiona Maddocks
The Consort

It is lovely to hear so many monodic settings for the Feast of St. Agnes, who serves as an inspiration for nuns; their chants vary from simple plainsong to more elaborate settings… Musica Secreta’s performance of Palestrina’s Mass Veni Sponsa Christi… is equally beautiful. The Palestrina settings on this CD are very effective and Musica Secreta amply demonstrates that this music can be performed by women alone.

” —Elizabeth Rees
Classic FM Magazine

Compelling album of music…irresistible, and thanks to the honest-to-goodness sound of the recording and unaffected music-making, mercifully free from artificial additives. Strongly recommended (5 stars)

” —AS
International Record Review

Sensitively imagined and vividly realized interpretations… remarkably delicate but with a kind of muscular dignity that is extremely moving

” —Robert Levett
Early Music Today

The music is interesting, beautifully sung and well recommended


This recording will appeal to different people for one or more of a variety of reasons; if you sit back and listen to some beautiful singing, the {Palestrina Mass] certainly makes the recording very worthwhile. De Rore’s Magnificat too receives an attractive performance. The beautiful performances of the Holy Saturday music, designed to lift the soul. The recording is very good, with great clarity… the presentation is attractive… the notes are informative. This new recording is a worthy addition to Musica Secreta’s discography and to the catalogue in general.

” —Brian Wilson
Choir And Organ

The world of musicology has long been aware that there were nuns who sang sacred polyphony written for men in ingenious re-arrangements. Barely explored on disc, it was time someone gave it a serious go, and there is surely no ensemble better equipped intellectually to unlock this cloistered performance practice that Musica Secreta. Their versions […]

” —Rebecca Tavener
Liverpool Daily Post

Made quite an impact to listeners [of the BBC Radio 4 serialisation of the Sacred Hearts novel]… and immensely relaxing experience from a highly professional group

” —Peter Spaull