Stephen Moreno, O.S.B. (1889-1953) was a Catholic priest originally from Spain. His father first introduced him to music before becoming a piano student of Dom Resa. Dom Resa was the organist at their local church. At the tender age of 15, Moreno made the decision to enter the Benedictine abbey of El Miracle. It was at the Benedictine abbey where he took on the name Esteban (Stephen) as part of his religious vocation. In 1907 he furthered his musical education in Rome under the tutelage of Signore Boezzi and Lorenzo Perosi. His compositional talents were further encouraged by Perosi.
In 1908, Moreno entered the Benedictine Community of New Norcia in Western Australia. It was in Australia that he composed 210 works of which 1100 are individual compositions and 200 accompaniments were Gregorian chant. During his formation and preparation for the priesthood, his involvement in sacred music was as assistant organist and choirmaster in the Benedictine community. Moreno’s goal in sacred music was to restore music in the Catholic liturgy back to its “proper state” as per Pope Pius X’s Motu Proprio (1903), highlighting the requirements for liturgical music. Moreno’s compositions included Masses, motets, Litanies, four Te Deums and offertoires for liturgical seasons (such as feast days). He did however write many secular instrumental and vocal works.
A decade after his ordination to the priesthood by Bishop Fulgentius Torres in 1913, Moreno was involved with the construction of a two manual pipe organ in 1923 at the Abbey Church. In 1927, he was seconded to install another pipe organ at St Joseph of the Sacred Heart in North Sydney. In the 1930s he trained choirs across the countryside and even managed this in a trip to New Zealand. During his time at New Norcia, he conducted many concerts and most notably arranging music for the centenary of the monastery in 1946. Moreno passed away on March 6, 1953 in Marseilles, France and was buried at the cemetery of the Benedictine abbey of En Calcat.
Moreno’s work was highly regarded in Europe and Australia however in the current era, his music seems to have seen little light. His book Corona Mariae 12 pieces in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is highly agreeable in the current state of the Catholic liturgy today. The Corona Marie is a collection of motets for two equal voices (or two choirs) with organ accompaniment. The melodies are easily recognisable to their Gregorian counterparts and are achievable by any dedicated parish choir. Some of the pieces in the book would be suitable as an offertory motet at a Novus Ordo or Extraordinary Form Mass and some only suited to particular seasons in the Church’s liturgical year.
It is with great pleasure that I present to you the complete recording of “Corona Mariae” by Swell Vox (James and Andrew Flores, David and Anthony Lee, Thomas Summerfield) in a series of recordings made between 2020 and 2022. This compilation of recordings has been “remastered” to form this all-in-one video.
00:05 | Alma Redemptoris Mater
02:18 | Assumpta est Maria
04:42 | Ave Maria
07:06 | Ave, Maris Stella
10:22 | Ave, Regina Caelorum
12:24 | Magnificat
17:36 | Omni die dic Mariae
21:29 | Regina caeli
23:36 | Salve Regina
26:49 | Stabat Mater
33:13 | Sub tuum praesidium
35:15 | Tota pulchra
For a copy of the music, please contact:
Peter Hocking (Archivist)
Benedictine Community of New Norcia
New Norcia WA 6509
(08) 9654 8018
National Library of Australia: https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-173070639/
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