The text consists of Virtutes, literally, "moral virtues," the name given to the short statements inscribed (primarily in Latin) on church tower bells in medieval times. Bells rang outward, chasing away the evil spirits that were believed to hover over the rooftops, and upward, as prayers to the heavens. Not only were church bells rung to ward off evil spirits, but to protect the faithful from storms, fires, human enemies and disease.
VIVOS VOCO I call the living
FLEO MORTUA I cry for the dying
MORTUOS PLANGO I wail for the dead
CONSOLO VIVA I console the living
DISSIPO VENTOS I disperse the winds
COMPELLO NUBILA I drive away the overcast of the sky
The composer has provided great drama with handbells ringing high above the choir, as well as the piano doing its best to be imitative of bells. A very dramatic piece that is excellent for the large choir.