• Brian Elias
  • Hymn to Saints Cosmo and Damian (1991)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the Hilliard Ensemble

  • hurdy-gurdy
  • Countertenor, 2 Tenors, Baritone
  • 10 min

Programme Note

Cosmo and Damian were twin brothers and were born in the middle of the third century AD in Cilicia (present day Turkey). They studied medicine in Syria and became renowned not only as charitable healers of men, but also of beasts. They were martyred in 303AD, during the persecution of Christians by Diocletian. Jacopo de Varaggini (1228-1298) recorded their lives in his Golden Legend (later translated into English by William Caxton). Cosmo and Damian have long been regarded as the patron saints of the medical profession as well as inspiring the devotion of many throughout Europe.

The text of this Hymn to SS Cosmo and Damian uses extracts from the Golden Legend and from Psalm 69 in both English and Latin. The Hymn is accompanied by a symphonie, a mediaeval drone instrument, and is set for four solo voices. The work, which lasts approximately ten minutes, was commissioned by the Hilliard Ensemble. It is dedicated to the memory of Nessie Humphries.

Brian Elias